CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY)– At Greenbrier Christian Academy in Chesapeake, there’s one class a little different than the rest.
Aviation 101 is a new course this semester, taught by Jeff Strange.
“I was initially a Navy pilot. Did that for an overall total of about 21 years,” said Strange.
31 years of flying experience later, he’s a full-time Southwest Airlines captain, now doubling as a teacher.
“I’m sure you’ve heard about the shortage with all the pilots, but it’s not just pilots. It’s everything that is in that entire industry of aviation and aerospace,” said Strange. “My goal is to bring some awareness and some excitement and see if this is something that might interest the students to do it in a career down the road because the opportunities are endless right now.”
Aviation 101 goes far beyond listening to lectures. Students get hands-on experience with a simulator donated by a training school at Chesapeake Regional Airport.
“It’s one thing to know that something works, it’s another thing to know, how it works,” said 10th-grade student Jonathan Ortiz. “Landing and taking off is hard; staying in the sky and flying is actually quite easy for the simulator
The class doesn’t stop there as students go airborne in real life. Recently, students were in the cockpit with a certified instructor.
“There’s nothing that compares to being able to get into an airplane and actually see and feel and know what’s going on in an airplane to be able to get your head wrapped around what aviation is all about,” explained Strange.
Strange says they have the ability to add three more years of courses to make this a four-year course. He says someone could walk out of the class with a pilot’s license or drone certification.