OPINION: The Benefits of an Aviation Program


I boarded the flight to Belgium with my family, excited to discover the historical landmarks in the country. As I entered the aircraft, the flight attendant, wearing a bright red scarf and a blue suit, cheerfully greeted me with the airline’s complementary chocolates. The passengers took their seats and the flight attendants closed the boarding doors. I sat next to the window and looked out, cherishing the beautiful sunset, next to the huge plane wings. The smell of the coffee the flight attendant offered to the other passengers flowed around the cabin. The pilot turned on the soaring engines and we took off while having a positive attitude. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a pilot.

Students are encouraged all throughout high school to research different career fields and many schools are also implementing programs that introduce and teach these careers.  However, some fields, such as aviation are not represented at Francis Lewis.

By adding an aviation program, students get a basic understanding of what they will experience in the future, and second, how the program can impact students not only interested in aviation but students who are undecided about their future career. A few students and teachers here at Francis Lewis discussed their thoughts on why an aviation program should be implemented at our school.

“I would like to pursue an aviation or aerospace-related career in the future,” said Priscilla Yao, a junior and Model Airplane Club president who is interested in the aviation career field.  “The reason I would like to pursue aviation and aerospace after high school is simply because I am interested in the subject.

“I have experienced many hands-on activities with building robots and model airplanes so I believe that I would enjoy majoring in aerospace engineering,” Yao added.  “Additionally, I both love and excel in math, physics, and engineering so I believe this career path is a good one for me.”

To pursue an aviation career, it is necessary to have a foundation in several subjects, some of which require students to start at an early age. For example, future pilots should start learning concepts of flying a plane at the age of 15 or 16,  according to aviator Sam Weigal.

“The program will prepare me for concepts that I will learn later on by giving me earlier experience,” Yao said. “Instead of choosing a major in college and experiencing it for the first time, an aviation program can help students explore whether or not they would like to pursue this career path in college.  Furthermore, if I do decide to take aviation-related courses in college, I will have prior knowledge to help me get a head start in these courses.”

An aviation program could help students develop their understanding of aerodynamics, just like those taught in the Model Airplanes Club. Although the club involves a basic understanding of aircraft, a program would be more sufficient and beneficial to students planning on an aviation career.

“In the Model Airplane Club, we mostly do hands-on activities that incorporate basic aerodynamics such as lift, drag, the parts and directions of an airplane, propulsion, etc.,” Yao said. “I believe these basic concepts can indeed be taught in an aviation program; however, the program could include a more rigorous and in-depth teaching of these topics.”

Aviation High School, a unique specialized high school located in Long Island City, focuses more on hands-on building, which is aerospace engineering. Francis Lewis should implement this type of coursework so students can gain knowledge in the field.

“I think it is important to provide students with as much opportunity as possible to experience and learn different careers, fields, occupational skills, professional etiquette,” mathematics teacher Ms. Ramkishun said.

“Career-based programs allow for students to get a glimpse at a career they can potentially see themselves working in or maybe not working in,” Ms. Ramkishun added. “Career-based programs help students learn about themselves, what they like, dislike, what colleges or career pathways they want to undergo.”

Although there are benefits to adding an aviation program at Francis Lewis, a program has not been created because of a lack of student interest, according to AP Science Ms. Jaipershad.

“Our students are capable of being successful in any program offered at the school,” Ms. Jaipershad said. “There has been more of an interest in programs like Robotics and Engineering therefore no one has ever come to us for an aviation program.”

“Though we have an engineering program, we haven’t seen a necessity in an aviation program, for example aerospace engineering. We haven’t seen a demand in an aviation program either which resulted in seeing this cause,” Ms. Jaipershad said.

An aviation program could enhance the engineering and robotics program already established at Francis Lewis.  For example, aerospace engineering focuses mainly on engineering, however this type of engineering is different from the engineering taught in the school. Aerospace engineering requires the understanding of different airplane features.

“I am deeply interested in physics, engineering, and building model aircraft so I believe that an aviation program will target those three areas of interest,” Yao said. “The program will have a more narrowed-down focus on this specific STEM career, which I would personally enjoy.”