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Troubled youths hone aviation techniques

March 27, 2008

Students at Canyon State Academy normally would have a limited chance to learn how to fly an airplane. However, through a special program that ASU’s Department of Aeronautical Management Technology in the College of Technology and Innovation is offering, they are experiencing what it’s like to be a pilot.

Canyon State Academy, a school for at-risk boys and young men in Queen Creek, offers programs that provide character and skill development opportunities and direction in their lives.

“As pilots and air traffic controllers retire, we need to interest younger generations in filling their shoes,” says Rick Charles, chair and professor of the aeronautical department. “We see Canyon State Academy as a great opportunity to give back to the community and engage with potentially future aviation professionals.”

AMT donated two personal computer-based aviation flight training devices (PCATDs) that were scheduled for salvage after upgrading its Instrument Flight Training Laboratory with the purchase of seven PCATDs. These devices are used in the department’s flight and air traffic controller programs.

In addition, it recently completed its first “Introduction to Aviation” course with five students from Canyon State Academy. The 10-week course teaches students the basic concepts of flying and shows them career opportunities in aviation. The course, developed by Jim Anderson,

ASU lecturer in aviation and former Southwest Airlines employee, was adapted from Southwest’s Adopt-A-Pilot program.

“Our program incorporates the FLIGHT values or traits from Southwest’s program, so students learn to be fearless when overcoming challenges, and they learn about leadership skills, imagination, gratitude, honesty and tenacity,” says Alan Kamper, an ASU alumnus and a flight instructor for Mesa Pilot Development.

The first course was so successful that the department made plans to refine the curriculum for the next class, which started March 17.

“In the next session, we will include a visit to the Gateway Tower and visit aircraft maintenance training facilities,” Kamper says.

The department also donated three PCATDs to the Mesa Public School System’s Flight Center at Salk Elementary School and hopes to expand the aviation course to more schools.

“Our goal is to introduce younger generations to the aviation industry and to encourage them to ultimately pursue careers in aviation as pilots, air traffic controllers or managers,” Charles says.