Drone school gives high school students future aviation options

An innovative program at a Lee County high school teaches students how to operate drones and chances to step into a flight simulator.

A group of Bonita High School students is getting a flying start to their careers in a four-year aerospace technology program that starts in the classroom.

The students can earn up to 14 college credits. The class uses virtual reality to enhance the educational experience. With each flight, students learn safety features and flight rules.

“We can get our license for flying the drones by the end of this year,” said Hannah Avinon, a sophomore.

Those enrolled in the class have an opportunity to obtain a commercial drone license, which can prepare them for receiving a private pilot’s license in the future.

The students also have the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of airplanes at the airport, with each hour there flying going towards earning a pilot’s license.

“It does make you a lot more confident,” said Alec Mauriello, a sophomore. “Plus, it saves a lot of money and time.”

The lessons learned in the program will also make them better job candidates. Todd Callahan, an aerospace teacher, said he receives emails from American Airlines and other opportunities for his students.

“The Air Force has always been something I’ve been looking forward to,” Avinon said.

“I’m really hoping on becoming an airline pilot, maybe with the same company as my dad,” Mauriello said.

But even with their future on the horizon, during class fun is in the air.

“It feels really cool, like really free,” Mauriello said, “if that doesn’t sound cheesy.”

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Michael Mora
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