Mt. Vernon High School (MVHS) recently became part of an elite group of eight high schools and seven districts in Indiana that offer a college aviation course. MVHS began a collaboration with Ivy Tech Community College to implement an aviation course for juniors and seniors this 2018-2019 school year. The key coordinators who worked on putting this course into practice were the Director of Secondary Education Mr. Scott Shipley, Mt. Vernon High School Principal Mr. Greg Roach, Ivy Tech Aviation Program Chair Mr. Matt Medley, and the Ivy Tech Aviation Course Instructor Mr. Jack Morton.
Mr. Scott Shipley stated, “We are truly pleased that the partnership with Ivy Tech and the Indianapolis Airport Authority came to fruition. This program has been long in the making, and will offer students an incredible opportunity to leave high school with credits toward a degree in aviation.”
The year-round course is a combination of two classes: AVIT 111 and AVIT 120. The AVIT 111 course is essentially an overview of the aviation industry, which is much broader than piloting. Students experience the airport environment, listen to speakers from the aviation industry, and learn about the types of career opportunities in the industry. The AVIT 120 course is the course taught to students which teaches them the information they need to know in order to pass the Federal Aviation Administration’s pilot exam. These aviation introduction courses are popular for those students who are interested in pursuing flight training in the future.
The opportunity to take this course was also opened up to upperclassmen at Greenfield Central High School. Students from Greenfield Central travel to Mt. Vernon High School every morning in order to participate in the course, which is taught from 9:00-10:45 a.m. Mr. Jack Morton, the course instructor, also makes the journey every day in order to share his knowledge with the students. Mr. Morton has been a pilot for over 25 years and has been teaching people to fly for 10 years.
Six students from Greenfield Central and five students from Mt. Vernon make up the aviation class for the 2018-2019 school year. Mr. Morton says he is “frankly thrilled” with the group of students who chose to explore the course. He says more is expected of them since they are taking a college course, but they are an engaging and extremely motivated group of students.
Mr. Roach shared, “I am hopeful the program grows through the years and continues to foster students’ passion for a career in aviation. This partnership gives students exposure to aviation to before choosing their college path. Aerospace is an industry with great potential for a long-term, rewarding career for our students.”
The aviation industry is expected to see a major decrease in pilots in the coming years, given that the required retirement age for an airline pilot is 65 years old. Consequently, the demand for pilots is growing, causing educators to encourage students who are interested in aviation to pursue it for his or her career. In addition to the demand for pilots, the financial incentive for becoming a pilot or an aviation mechanic is huge, with the average salary of an Indiana pilot being $115,000.
The cost to the students is $25 per credit hour, which is substantially less than a college student would pay for the same courses. This discounted rate can be attributed to Mr. Morton, who placed a call to the Indianapolis Airport Authority and shared the opportunity to support aviation education for high school students. The Indianapolis Airport Authority agreed to underwrite the high school students’ textbook costs for this course.
A hope that is shared among all of the coordinators of this course is that aviation will be pursued long term at Mt. Vernon High School and the student interest will continue to climb. Mr. Medley says that he wants the program to reach the maximum of 25 students, simply stating, “I think we can obtain that growth.”