By John Anderson
Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School students will soon be able to take an introductory course, “Exploring the Fundamentals of Aviation Science”, through a partnership with AeroVenture Institute (AVI) located at Southbridge Airport. This is the first S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) for high school students designed to encourage interest in and appreciation for aviation science.
Exploring the Fundamentals of Aviation Science is part of an Early College High School initiative begun at Bay Path last year with its partnership with Quinsigamond Community College in offering introductory English and computer science courses. Completion of the AeroVenture aviation course will earn students two college credits from Adams State University in Colorado.
The course will explore meteorology; engineering and aircraft maintenance; instrumentation; historical and social evolution of flight; communication skills; navigation, geography, and math; weights and balances; and career opportunities in aviation. The course includes one flying lesson for a student and his/her parent/guardian through AVI. Flights will take off from Southbridge Airport, and families will schedule individual appointments for these flights directly with AeroVenture.
The Southbridge Municipal Airport is still in the process of rebuilding due to damage caused by the 2011 tornado. The storm destroyed more than twelve aircraft along with several buildings, and Southbridge received one million dollars from the state to rebuild.
To kick off this new course, a flyover was held at Bay Path on Tuesday, October 27th. Three single engine planes from AVI flew over Bay Path at about 1:15pm with students filling the bleachers of the football field. Superintendent John Lafleche was in one plane and Curriculum Coordinator Dr. Bethann Cormier was in another. Cormier remains the field hockey coach for Auburn High School. The aircraft trio made two passes over the school before returning to Southbridge Airport.
After the flight, guests and members of the Press were invited to the Hilltop Restaurant for light refreshments and some great conversations. George Charles Allen, President and CEO of AVI, told Auburn Mass Daily that his love of flying began when he was 1-1/2 years old. His pilot father took him on a flight, and he was hooked. Allen said the classes will begin in January of 2016 and are partially supported by the Bay Path Foundation.
Allen says there will be a pilot shortage in the next 30 years, and “the opportunities are here right now.” “We are inspiring economic growth for the next generation.”
He added, “Small airports are closing up all over the country, and we’re with the national trend of STEM using aviation.” Allen piloted the blue-topped plane while AVI pilots Daryl Dawkins flew the high-wing aircraft and Tony DeLuca operated the other low-winged plane.
AVI moved from Worcester Regional Airport to Southbridge in May of 2014. They have been in business for six years and have been listed as one of the top ten flight schools in the USA. In 2015, AVI was named the #1 flight school in the United States.