C.J. Welch, a sophomore at North, dreams of one day becoming a commercial airline pilot. His passion for that career path led Welch and his family to move to McKinney so that he can participate in the McKinney ISD Aviation program.
Three McKinney North High School students got a bird’s eye view of the North Homecoming pre-game festivities at Ron Poe Stadium Friday night when they took part in a McKinney ISD Aviation flyover.
The flyover, which is becoming something of a Homecoming tradition, marks the fourth time in two years that McKinney ISD Aviation students have soared over the crowd before a game. (Two other planned flyovers were cancelled due to inclement weather conditions.)
About 30 minutes before the coin toss at Ron Poe Stadium, aviation students Kayla Gilbreath, C.J. Welch and Tyler Beard joined professional flight instructors aboard three single engine U.S. Sport airplanes that took off from Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney. As the planes swung in low over the stadium in a triangle formation, they were greeted by a roar of approval from the McKinney North faithful.
The McKinney ISD Aviation program is a Career & Technical Education (CTE) course of study that has quickly grown from about 40 students in 2011 to more than 200 in 2013 and features an FAA-approved flight training simulator on which students can log flight hours.
“We are offering one of the most unique programs in the nation and hope to continue growing this program,” Tamy Smalskas, McKinney ISD director of special projects and CTE, said. “We have a state-of-the-art aviation program for high school students.”
The City of McKinney’s recent purchase of the Collin County Regional Airport has created the potential for increased partnership between the city, the airport and the McKinney ISD Aviation program, which is sure to evoke yet more interest from students.
Story and photos courtesy of Shane Mauldin