Roanoke Catholic School’s new flight school curriculum can take students to new heights

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 7:11 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke Catholic School is adding a unique opportunity for students in the CTE program. Juniors and seniors will be able to learn what it takes to become a private pilot.

Roanoke Catholic School is partnering with Star Flight Training to offer courses that will help an aviation career take off.

Before student pilots reach their cruising altitude, Roanoke Catholic School’s principal and head of school explained, they have to learn the basics in the classroom.

“The field of aviation has not just the piloting piece, but it has the customer service piece, it has marketing, it has the science and avionics that’s involved,” Patrick Patterson said.

Star Flight Training will offer two semesters of curriculum at Roanoke Catholic School starting in fall 2023. Star Flight’s operations manager explained the program will help give potential pilots and aviation workers a head start.

“It’s gonna help give them that leg up here in high school, so that when they come out and visit us at the flight school, they’re going to have that background of knowledge and information they’ll need to actually do flight training,” Jon Beard said.

Educators are getting on board with expanding the CTE program, so students can explore different pathways after graduation.

“We have a responsibility as educators, at the secondary level especially, to make sure that kids are ready for those different career opportunities that exist,” Patterson said. “There’s so much interwoven between the avionics industry and science and mathematics and marketing and business, so if we can introduce those things now, we need to take advantage of doing that.”

The aviation industry estimates a need of more than 1,000,000 skilled workers within the next 20 years. Boeing’s Pilot and Technician Outlook is predicting a need of 602,000 pilots and 610,000 technicians by 2041.

“Whether they want to be airline pilots, drone pilots or mechanics, we’re hoping to help them get on that pathway,” Beard said.

Students like Allison Brundrett hope the program can help then reach new heights.

“I kind of started looking into aviation a lot and I realized that it was pretty cool and I think I want to be a part of that,” Brundrett said.

Students can get their pilot certifications even before they graduate high school. The classroom curriculum is included in Roanoke Catholic School’s tuition. The school is also funding the program through grants.

Roanoke Catholic School is also looking to partner with local colleges to offer students dual enrollment with aviation programs.