Precollegiate Programs Offers Aviation Education for Youth

  • Aug. 24, 2011, 9:10 p.m.

Department of Aviation's fleet of planes

On June 24, OU Aviation juniors Jennifer Scanlon and Robin Torres successfully completed the 2011 Women’s Air Race Classic, flying in the university’s Piper PA-28-161 Warrior aircraft. The pilots finished the cross country race in first place among first-time event flyers.

Along with out-of-classroom learning opportunities provided by OU Aviation, the College of Professional and Continuing Studies (PACS) is also involved in educating the young people who will eventually become OU Aviation students themselves. The Sky High Academy, offered through Precollegiate Programs, is a two-week summer commuter camp held at the OU Sooner Flight Academy at Max Westheimer Airport, where eighth and ninth grade high school students receive introductory lessons in the fields of aviation and aerospace engineering.

At Sky High Academy, students receive practical instruction through classroom activities that include building and launching model rockets and plotting and flying a cross-country flight path similar to that used by Torres and Scanlan in their 1230-mile flight between Nebraska and Alabama.

“Sky High Academy engages students in all aspects of aviation,” said Chris Elliott, program administrator for Precollegiate Programs. “It’s an incredibly hands-on program that also teaches about the history of aviation and how airplanes are built.”

In addition to activities that develop students’ general aviation knowledge and skills, students also take several field trips to locations connected to aviation, including Will Rogers World Airport and the Metro Tech in Oklahoma City. According to program literature, students also explore various careers in aviation, gaining exposure to the field not just as a recreational interest, but as a viable career path.

This is the second consecutive year PACS has offered the Sky High Academy, one of several summer academies provided through Precollegiate Programs, which gives students unique educational summer learning opportunities. Additional information on Sky High Academy and other Precollegiate Summer Academies can be found at youth.ou.edu.