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Aviation and Flight Operations Program opens for South Bend Community School students

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- South Bend students are soaring to new opportunities with the launch of an aviation program designed to teach students how to fly a real plane.

The aviation experience is the newest addition to the South Bend Community School Corporation’s Career and Technical Education Program (CTE).

The program gives students a hands-on experience through the use of a flight simulator to learn how to fly a plane. 

“Not everyday somebody gets the chance to do something like this,” Ashton Nenna said, a junior.

The CTE program gives students the skills to be successful in the work force upon graduation.

The Aviation and Flight Operations Program also opens up the door for students to explore a variety of careers within the aviation industry—that is struggling with a pilot shortage.

“It’s a privilege that I’m able to do this right now because I know a lot of people here told me they didn’t have this opportunity when they were in high school,” Dinari McLean said, a junior.

Students enrolled in the program have a chance to go to the South Bend International Airport every day for hands-on training to teach students the in’s and out’s of flying a real plane.

After just 50 hours of simulation training, students could get a chance to fly a real plane alongside an instructor.

“It’s exciting to have such a small group become something so out-there and known now,” Emily McSheffery said, a junior.

Many of the students dreamed of pursuing an aviation career for years and now the students have an opportunity to use their training wheels and witness their dreams come true.

Students will learn from long-time pilot, Elix Rondon, how to take off and land a plane—and everything in between.

“I feel so proud about this because it’s a big opportunity for our students,” Elix Rondon said, the Instructor of the Aviation Program.

And the addition is only just the beginning, according to the South Bend Community School Corporation.

“We believe this is just one of several on-site classroom programs that we’re going to be unrolling in the next few years,” Dr. Todd Cummings said, Superintendent of South Bend Community School Corporation.

“We want to fill the missing workers and begin them much younger than we have ever before,” Chad Addie said, Career and Technical Education Principal.

Students can get on board with the new training program during their junior year of high school. Students will spend half of their school day getting the unique hands-on experience.

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