Emmet County High School Students Take Flight in New Aviation Program

A new high school aviation program took a big step today, as they took students airborne.

The Alanson superintendent is also a pilot.

He wanted to start a high school aviation program to help fill the great demand for pilots.

The district partnered with Pellston Regional Airport, Northwestern Michigan College and Executive Air Transport in Muskegon to put all the pieces together and get students in the sky.

9 & 10’s Blayke Roznowski and photojournalist Noah Jurik were there for the students’ first flights. 

"Is this actually happening? Like, I’m actually in the air right now, flying," an Alanson student Jacob Oom said.

It was an out of the ordinary school day for Jacob Oom, one of 15 students taking part in the first ever high school aviation program out of the Pellston Airport. 

"Aviation has always been, like, kind of a cool thing," Oom said. "I think for anyone just your school offering it you just go into it. It’s a no brain-er."  

The Alanson superintendent and a pilot, Dean Paul, came up with the idea to offer training for students to earn high school and college credit and their private pilot license.

"We have a lot of interest from the region because there is such a demand and it’s such a unique program that we’re offering our students up here," Paul said. 

After a few months of using these flight simulators as well as learning all things aviation, it was time for students to take their skills from the classroom to up in the sky. 

"You could feel the movements instead of being in, like, the simulator," Oom said. "You don’t feel yourself turn or the wind. Even the wind you can feel when you’re up there. It’s awesome."

It’s the only program of its kind north of Grand Rapids and one of only a handful across the U.S.

Paul says this is just the beginning for students like Oom to become our next generation of pilots.

"It’s an opportunity and I’m taking it," Oom said. 

They’re looking to put together a scholarship program to help offset costs.