It was a unique touchdown on the Canyon High School football field – without a football, teams or cheer squads.
As students looked skyward, a Revolution Aviation helicopter circled, then landed gently and skillfully on the 30-yard line.
The landing was arranged by teacher Steve Smith, as part of the hands-on instruction in his Aviation classes. The students were able to look under the hood of the aircraft, sit in the cockpit and view the instrument panel, and ask questions of the pilots.
Smith, a former commercial pilot, brought the aviation program to Canyon. Now in its third year, Canyon’s is the only high school aviation program in Orange County. Students in the initial freshman Careers in Aviation Class receive a broad overview of the many career opportunities available in the industry, including air traffic control, airport operations and aviation mechanics, as well as engineering, military careers, design, navigation and pilot.
Smith’s Aviation I and Aviation II classes include ground school, taught to FAA standards. Completion of the classes allow the student to take the FAA written exam, and receive college credits in collegiate aviation programs.
Smith uses six flight simulators in the classroom, where students learn maneuvers and reduce their in-the-air training time. Students may begin flight training at any age, and obtain a license at age 17, upon completion of flight hours.
The program also has a plane … of sorts. A Cessna 150 was donated to the CHS Aviation program, sans engine and propeller. Students learn the parts and mechanics of the plane, and are working to restore it, most recently attaching the wings.
CHS juniors Noah Glaser and Jake Nowicki are already logging hours toward their pilots licenses.
Glaser, who says he has always been “very passionate” about aviation, plans to obtain his license, and use the knowledge to augment a career in aeronautical engineering.
Nowicki, also a long-time fan of aviation, plans to use his pilot’s license in the Air Force or Coast Guard.
Freshmen Patrick Dillon and Julian Flores are also avid aviators, working toward their licenses. Sophomore Mia Kuyumjian enjoys the classes, but foresees flying as more of a hobby than a career.