Clayton County

Clayton County students fly high with unique aviation program

MORROW, Ga. — Students at one high school are taking flight and getting a leg up on a lucrative career.

They are part of a unique aviation program where they are taught by certified flight instructors on equipment real pilots use.

Channel 2′s Tom Jones climbed into the cockpit with students who took him for a virtual ride.

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“We’re gonna be taking off from just a straight runway,” said aviation student, Cadet Stanley Baker.

Jones said you would think he would be nervous sitting in the cockpit with a high school student pilot at the controls.

But, Jones wasn’t because he and Baker were flying on one of 30 FAA-approved flight simulators at Morrow High School.

“Now, I’m going to do a turn so you can get a feel for what it’s actually like,” Baker explained.

It’s all part of Morrow’s one-of-a-kind aviation program.

“We’re asking high school kids to do things that adults do,” said Lt. Colonel Raymond King of Morrow High School.

There are about 40 students in the program. The cadets take aviation courses taught by a certified flight instructor.


“They get to get one-on-one instruction time. They get to learn everything that a pilot need(s) to know,” said flight instructor Katiana Charnel.

They take an FAA ground exam and even have two Cessna’s to practice flying.

King and school leaders partnered with the Brock Foundation and created the program.

King says there is an incredible shortage of airline pilots and the industry needs more minorities.

“We’re right in Hartsfield-Jackson’s backyard, so we want to be that pipeline,” King said.

Superintendent Anthony Smith says it’s about developing programs that help students soar.

“We want to give our kids as many opportunities to succeed in life as possible and this is just one more opportunity,” Smith said.

King says the program can set students up for life.

“If they stick with the plan they can be making (more than) $300,000 a year at 25,” King said.

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“I’m about to land on this runway over here,” explained aviation student, Cadet Lt. An Le.

Le stumbled on the program when he went to the wrong class.

“At that moment I was like wow. That’s so cool. I want to be a part of that,” Le explained.

Now, he hopes to get his pilot’s license and fly people all over the world, including his family.

“My family always wanted me to fly them back to Vietnam, so that’s one of the reasons too,” said Le. “It feels like I’m really taking a step up in my life.”

The school says two students have already graduated from the program and are well on the way to getting their pilot’s license.


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