CORPUS CHRISTI — Flour Bluff the hornets are getting their wings ready to fly.
A new program offered during the 2023-2024 school year will give high school students the chance to build and pilot a plane.
“I can get to learn how to build a plane, learn everything about the plane and then know how to fly it,” Maddy Taylor said. “That’s crazy.”
Maddie is an eighth grader in Flour Bluff.
Her dad is a pilot instructor for the Navy Reserves.
“I didn’t know much but I knew that my dad was really cool, he was on a ship and that he flew planes,” Maddy said. “And I was like, ‘I’m going to do that.”
In two years, when she’s only a sophomore in high school, she’ll get to start her pilot journey.
“When we were kids and they had, you know, auto shop and you could work on your car,” Lieutenant Commander Jeremy Taylor, Maddy’s dad, said. “I was like ‘that’s really neat’. They’re going to get to work on planes, like build a plane, that’s just insane. It’s amazing.”
It’s all made possible thanks to the district’s partnership with Tango Flight, a non-profit that brings stem learning and hands on instruction in aviation.
“Tango flight is presenting us with this opportunity to give these students the chance to do this and make a dream like this a reality,” Kristen Bily, the communications director for FBISD, said.
Only 22 schools in the country offer the program.
“Flour Bluff is the seventh school in Texas to hold this course,” Bily said.
It will offer two, semester long courses --unmanned aerial flight and aerospace engineering. Those will be pre-requisites for two years of practicum classes where students will learn to build and, with FAA approval and certifications, fly an aircraft with an instructor.
“It’s an RV 12 two-seater plane,” Bily said.
“On a bigger scale, there’s such a pilot shortage right now,” Jeremy said. “A shortage of aviation professionals, mechanics, engineers.”
“That’s also putting jobs back into NAS Corpus Christi,” Bily said. “So, you’re right. They’re coming full circle and then coming back to work and flourish over here which is fantastic.”
Bily said it will give students greater opportunities for scholarships and the skills they learn through Tango flight can help them land the right career.
“There’s not that many woman pilots,” Maddy said. “I feel like that would be so cool. Like ‘I’m a girl. I fly planes.”
Sophmores, juniors and seniors can take part in the program.
Bily said students who are interested can talk to their counselors about signing up for the fall semester.
Classes will consist of about 20 students each and will give them the opportunity to earn drone piloting, aerospace technician, and OSHA certifications.
“I’ve just been so geeked out thinking that my kids might actually have the chance to learn about flying, learn about building an airplane, get their private pilot’s license,” Jeremy said.