Captivated by a presentation in a classroom at Harlingen High School, a group of approximately 20 students take their first steps into a field that most individuals will not get the opportunity to encounter in their lifetime.
These students are members of the Aviation Club at HHS. The club’s mission is to give students an opportunity to learn the basics of flying an aircraft and open their eyes to the career opportunities that aviation can bring, said Dr. Timothy Jordan, physics teacher at HHS. To keep physics at the forefront of their organization, the subject is applied throughout Aviation Club meetings.
“Being a part of the Aviation Club is great,” said Noah Resendez, Aviation Club president and junior. “I have learned a lot more, and more than I ever hoped, about what it actually takes to fly and own a plane. It’s a fun experience and I hope to do it as my career.”
Throughout their participation, students gain understanding about the flight controls and safety measures that pilots use every day. The club follows an aviation curriculum provided by the Aircraft Owner and Pilot Association and the Experimental Aircraft Association under their Young Eagles program, said Jordan.
“It is a very cross curricular subject, because you have to be good at communications, reading weather and navigation,” said Jordan. “It’s just about everything you can think of so were going to touch on that the rest of the year.”
Beyond the theoretical education they receive; club members also have the opportunity to connect with professional flight instructor Paul Chapman and put their knowledge to the test by going on a one hour flying lesson outside of normal school or organization activities. Chapman, who volunteers as a guest speaker during the Aviation Club meetings, has almost 40 years of experience under his belt as a pilot.
With their hands on experience, students earn their first hour of flight time towards obtaining a private pilot license. After their first flight, if a student wishes to continue the path towards receiving their license they can work Jordan or Chapman to partner with external organizations to complete the requirements.
For students who have already had the chance to fly, the experience has them hooked on their aspirations to pursue aviation as a life interest.
“It was a great experience,” said Gilbert Maldonado, junior at HHS. “He let us ascend into the sky which was pretty tough because he didn’t help us at all. He coached us through it and it went well. Flying is totally different than just being able to understand how to do it. It changed my perspective on everything. I want to get my private pilot’s license.”
The club, which is less than a year old, was started after students shared their desire to learn more about aviation. Knowing of Jordan’s background, the students remained persistent until the club was set in motion this January. In the months it has been open, students have gravitated towards the after school activity. The club currently has 20 students and is expected to grow in the next year.
“We want it to grow,” said Jordan. “I’d like to expand our activities and build some model plans and work on flight planning. We are also working to set up some field trips to the Valley International Airport (VIA) towers and hangers. The point is to try to introduce as much aviation as we can.”
For HHS students interested in joining in the organization, they are encouraged to contact Jordan.