Bibb County school system offering flight operations courses

It took just a few seconds to get hooked.

“Flying would be something to accomplish,” said an excited Rutland High School junior Adonis Parker, who climbed out of an old, gray F-15 flight simulator parked in front of his school.

Moments earlier, he had managed to “fly” the instructional plane. Some of his classmates crashed.

It’s all part of a Bibb County school system plan to launch a flight operations program at Hutchings Career Center in January to help students become more marketable.

To pique student interest in the program, a flight simulator has been taken around to Bibb’s high schools this week and introduced to about 1,200 students who might want to take the courses.

“We don’t get too much of nothing,” said Parker, who hopes to enroll. “Taking flight classes and stuff, it gives us chances.”

The Bibb County school board voted to start the program last month after receiving a $100,000 state grant to buy equipment.

The school is now in the process of hiring a flight instructor.

“We have a lot of things going on around here we just weren’t tapping into,” Hutchings principal Ron McCall said. “We looked at the community and industry to see what was out there for kids and then looked at student interest.”

The school ended its longtime manufacturing program in lieu of starting the flight operations program.

Only a few schools across the state offer such programs. Hutchings would be the first in Middle Georgia to offer it to high school students, McCall said.

Students will be able to take four courses under the program: fundamentals of aviation, navigation and communication, aviation meteorology and the aeroscholars aviation ground school.

Students would take labs, including using flight simulator software.

The courses would prepare students to go on to two- and four-year college aviation programs.

It could lead to multiple job opportunities in the aerospace and aviation industry, from a pilot or aircraft mechanic to managing an airport or keeping plane maintenance records, said Wayne Carley, a flight instructor with the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins and a pilot of 26 years.

Carley was in charge of taking the flight simulator to the schools.

“Aviation is Georgia’s largest industry,” Carley said, referring to Robins Air Force Base and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

About 60 students will be able to enroll in the program in January, and there are plans to expand the number later, McCall said.

Hutchings also offers courses in culinary arts, health science, automotive, business and interactive media.

So far, students are excited with the school’s new addition.

“It seems like it would be fun,” said another Rutland student, Artemus Gordon, who may try it. “You probably have some kids who want to learn how to fly planes or fix them.”

For more information about the program, call Hutchings at 779-2550.

To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.