Is the sky the limit?

Aviation Academy holds open house

By Melanie LeCroy / melanie@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 10/20/21

The sky is no longer the limit for Gulf Shores High School students.

The Aviation Academy held an open house at the new Aviation Lab at Jack Edwards National Airport Oct. 13 and welcomed the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Is the sky the limit?

Aviation Academy holds open house

Posted

The sky is no longer the limit for Gulf Shores High School students.

The Aviation Academy held an open house at the new Aviation Lab at Jack Edwards National Airport Oct. 13 and welcomed the community to see firsthand what the students are working on. In just two months the students have worked with their aviation teacher Haley Kellogg and mentors to build worktables, organize parts and inventory and begin construction of a Van’s RV-12 airplane. Students and administrators also had the opportunity to fly in a RV-12 with Tango Flight during the open house.

The program, which is open to juniors and seniors, currently has six students who meet at the Aviation Lab each morning. They spend approximately one hour working on the plane before heading back to Gulf Shores High School for the rest of their classes.

Gulf Shores High School Principal Cindy Veazey said the logistics of students traveling off campus and flying is a challenge but is one she thinks is worth taking.

“It has been a challenge and it is difficult but it’s a challenge worth doing and pursing. If we don’t change then our educational system becomes even more antiquated. We have got to provide our children with the education that fits their norm not our norm and that is hard for a seasoned administrator,” Veazey said.

One of the most challenging parts of offering new programs that push the limits, she said, is convincing families to give them a try. Veazy said they are educating students on the jobs and opportunities that are out there and the experiences they need to have to succeed after high school.

Kellogg, a Gulf Shores High School graduate, joked that she might have skipped less class if the Aviation Academy had existed when she was in high school. She also would have saved a lot of money because much of what the students are learning across the Aviation Program, she had to pay for during flight training.

“I would have loved to be in high school a lot more if they had programs like this. A lot of kids get into that trap where they are just going to high school. They are doing the work but don’t have any direction in life or know what they want to do. Exposing them to a program like this that offers career opportunities for later down the road or immediately after high school gives them a head start. Even if these kids do not want to go into aviation at least it gives them a picture of what real world opportunities are available,” Kellogg said.

Kellogg and her students started the build last week. With the help of experienced mentors, the students are working on the vertical stabilizer which is a piece of the tale of the airplane. The build is expected to take two full school years. The plane will be inspected throughout the build by the Federal Aviation Administration. Kellogg said the plane will be more meticulously built than a home-built plane.

In addition to teaching the junior and senior level class where students are building the plane, Kellogg also teaches an Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association High School Aviation STEM Curriculum. The class is open to students starting in ninth grade. It teaches them more about career opportunities in aviation, fundamentals of flight, space exploration and aeronautical science. The class offers a lot of hands-on lab opportunities as well. Recently, students built hot air balloons out of tissue paper. The goal was to get a heat device like a stern or torch to make them fly.

“This program would not exist without superintendent Matt Akin and Principal Cindy Veazey encouraging all these crazy ideas we come up with,” said Director of High School Career Tech Jessica Sampley.

“All this happens because our administration and community are so willing to give back. We appreciate you so much,” Sampley said.