By Trevor Pettiford Pinellas County
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Sixth and seventh graders at Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Pete may not be old enough to learn how to drive yet, but they are, believe it or not, learning to fly.
It’s all happening thanks to a grant from American Airlines. The school is one of 17 in the U.S. giving grade school students opportunities for hands-on training on how to fly a plane.
“They’re all doing a really great job”, said academy aviation director Robert Ewing, “and if they don’t become pilots, at least they get a chance to do something pretty cool.”
After some training in the classroom on a flight simulator, the first group of grade schoolers was transported to Albert Whitted Airport where, once in the air, Ewing would let each of them take over the controls.
“It was amazing!” said seventh-grader Sophia Raymer. “We could see the whole St. Pete and everything up there,”
Sixth-grader Hazel Alevoc agreed.
“At first I was nervous,” Alevoc said, “and I thought it was going to be like the simulator, but it was actually a lot easier than I thought.”
Admiral Farragut Academy expects to have more than 50 of their youngest students take advantage of the training over the next three weeks.
UPDATE AS OF TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2019
7-9 a.m.: LIVE coverage shifts to WTTA (channel 6 or 1006 for most)