It takes more than a pilot to fly an airplane, and Sandra Harris, of Mays Landing, a computer specialist at the William J. Hughes FAA Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township, coached the small group of students into thinking about what other jobs might be open to them at an airport.
The list on the board in a classroom at Atlantic Cape Community College’s Worthington Center grew as Harris and the students added mechanics, directors, air and ground controllers, and flight attendants.
“We’re just trying to make them familiar with aviation and get an appreciation for flying,” Harris said during a break in the Aviation Academy sponsored this week by the St. James A.M.E. Church in Atlantic City, and local members of the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees and the National Society of Black Engineers. “We’re giving them an introduction to careers in all departments.”
On Thursday, the lesson was hands-on as students built small gliders then used them to learn how controllers get planes in and out of the air without incident. Pilot Alyson Beausoleil-Holt, of Jackson, Ocean County, a member of the Garden State Angels Chapter of Women in Aviation, played the role of controller. Students guided their planes onto taxiways, then runways for takeoff. They giggled, but retained a good bit of what they learned and only had one “runway incursion” when LaQuay Bishop failed to stop at the end of the taxiway to await further instructions.
“I wanted to learn about airplanes, how they fly,” said Bishop, 14, of Pleasantville, explaining why he gave up part of his last few days of summer vacation to learn about drag, lift, pitch and yaw.
Shadiyah Montague, 14, of Atlantic City, was interested in how planes land. Cierra Jones, 13, of Atlantic City said her grandfather was in the Air Force and Teyjah Parker, 14, of Atlantic City just came along with her friends because it sounded interesting.
Rhonda Hart, coordinator of the Choices after-school program at St. James, said the summer program was an extension of their after-school program, which also offers tutoring and career exploration.
“Everyone who participated in this is a volunteer,” she said. “We are here for the kids.”
Church steward Barbara Woodall said they want to both offer students choices and teach them how to make good choices in life.
Hart said another Aviation Academy is planned for March. Bishop is ready to go.
“The teachers were really good,” he said. “I want to come back.”
Contact Diane D'Amico: