LAND O’ LAKES — Aviation academies are beginning to soar in Pasco County. Last year, the district started its first academy in Land O’ Lakes, and now it’s looking to expand it to two more high schools.
At Sunlake High School students are learning about aeronautics and will soon be learning about drones. The district is also partnering with local airports to teach students about the business management and operations side of aviation.
Zephyrhills and Hudson high schools will also launch aviation academies this fall. Students in those programs will learn the mechanics behind aviation.
The district partnered with Embry-Riddle University and is able to offer courses with credits that can be transferred to other colleges.
“Students can walk out of here with somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 worth of college credits if they took those credits and applied them towards a degree program at Embry-Riddle University,” said director of technical education Terry Aunchman.
“There’s an entire program, so I can take a class each year and have pretty much a degree in flying,” said freshman Hunter Thompson. “I can become a pilot almost right out of high school. That’s pretty awesome.”
Students who take advantage of the program could graduate with industry certifications, as well as a pilot’s license.
Classes are offered in all grade levels. Students can start earning college credit their sophomore year.
The aviation academies are choice programs, so students who are not within the schools boundary can apply to attend them during open enrollment.