“It was fun,” said 16 year old HSRA student Rondell. “At first I was scared, but once you get in the air, it’s easy. The class is fun. I had never flown a plane before. We had to balance the wings and keep the rudder straight.” When asked what the most interesting part of the aviation class is, Rondell stated, “I like looking down at the view when we’re up in the air.”
HSRA students such as Rondell are now able to enroll in a full-scale, hands-on aviation course at HSRA thanks to the efforts of HSRA founder, David “T.C.” Ellis, who himself has a pilot’s license and its executive director, Tony Simmons, who also took flight lessons in high school. The HSRA aviation course is taught by instructor Maureen Foss who seems to enjoy the class as much as the students.
“In our intro to aviation class, we teach students how to fly a plane and we mix in lessons on math, science, physics, and the different components of flying, such as how a plane lifts and drags,” stated Foss.
As a part of the course, Foss takes HSRA students to visit the International Guard Museum at Fort Snelling and the Airforce Museum in South St. Paul. HSRA students who complete the course are able to fly a plane out of Fleming Field, also in South St. Paul.
Foss has also teamed up with different community partners to bolster the aviation program offerings of HSRA. As a part of the aviation course, the school now works with Mamie Singleton, St. Paul community member, who connects HSRA students with mentors and works with Foss to arrange different trips for the aviation students, like the recent trip to Lake Superior Community College in Duluth, Minnesota, where HSRA students had the opportunity to visit the college’s airplane mechanics training program and fly a plane using the school’s state-of-the-art flight simulator. The students also got to visit Cirrus Aircraft in Duluth, where airplanes are actually molded and built. Through Mamie's mentoring program the students now have use of a flight simulator at HSRA!