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Patriots Point receives $25,000 grant for Flight Academy

Staff //February 19, 2018//

Patriots Point receives $25,000 grant for Flight Academy

Staff //February 19, 2018//

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Patriots Point Flight Academy is developing a new program with American Airlines to spark an interest in aviation in eighth-graders. (Photo Patriots Point)

Patriots Point has received a $25,000 grant from American Airlines to help the museum develop a new program in the Patriots Point Flight Academy.

The program, being developed by Flight Academy staff in conjunction with the airline, will be geared toward eighth-graders and will focus on how to fly a commercial airplane. Currently, the only comparable program that the Flight Academy has is a program for fifth-graders that focuses on a battle mission in a fighter jet.

“Hopefully it becomes a long partnership in getting the youth of South Carolina involved in aviation,” Chris Broom, managing director of flight and training administration at American Airlines, said while presenting the grant check to the Patriots Point Development Authority board of directors.

The purpose, Broom said, is to get students interested in aviation at an early age and help curb the pilot shortage facing the aviation industry.

American Airlines isn’t experiencing a pilot shortage, Broom said, but some of its regional affiliates — from which American recruits pilots — are, he said.

Broom said the airline is trying to be proactive. Heather Bowers, manager of pilot career recruiting for American Airlines, is leading an effort to offer grants to organizations across the country that can develop aviation programs for students.

“We wanted to … encourage people to seek a career in aviation, and we realized there that even doing that in high school can be too late,” Broom said. “So Heather and her team are working hard to create an atmosphere where people want to get into aviation, and more specifically, piloting.”

Aaron Franklin, the primary instructor at the Flight Academy, said the program being developed is also intended to educate students about various jobs that go into flying a plane that don’t involve sitting in the cockpit, as well as improve students’ communication skills.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Franklin said, adding that the program will “open a box up and show how math in school applies to real-life scenarios.”

Franklin said the program could begin in the spring or summer, after American Airlines and the Flight Academy agree on the specifics of the curriculum.