Starr’s Mill students get intro to aviation careers

Starr's Mill Aviation Club students got a close look at the operating WWII aircraft in the Commemorative Air Force Dixie Wing Warbird Museum in Peachtree City during a recent tour. The Wing's P-51 Mustang was of particular interest to club members (from left) Katie Rausch, Will Bredahl and Sophie Cochran. They are participants in the new aviation program taught at Starr's Mill High School by Mike Meyer. Photo/CAF Dixie Wing.

The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Dixie Wing is launching an expanded aviation education outreach effort designed to stimulate career interest and preserve World War II history for students of all ages. One program, AIM HIGH! Fayette Career Exploration, is a partnership among Fayette County Public Schools, the Fayette Chamber of Commerce and the CAF Dixie Wing.

The CAF Dixie Wing also provided significant assistance as the school district introduced the Flight Operations Pathway this year at Starr’s Mill High School. This first-year aviation class includes about 75 students who are focused on pilot ground training and other aviation careers. The focus of AIM HIGH! was expanded this year to include other pathways and sectors important to Fayette County schools, such as medicine and information technology, said CAF Dixie Wing Public Information Officer Steve Forsyth.

“We have been working with key employers in the industry, workforce development entities, educational institutions, the military, government and economic development professionals, chambers of commerce, and other stakeholders,” said Virginia Gibbs, Fayette County Public Schools Coordinator of Innovative Partnership Development. “We’re focused on meeting local talent needs while preparing Fayette students for life-long learning, success in high-demand jobs and their future endeavors in a world of work that is rapidly changing.”

Fayette is acting as an AIM HIGH! demonstration site for Georgia school districts, and the CAF Dixie Wing is working closely with The Institute for Performance Improvement, nonprofits, museums and interested educators across the state, Forsyth said.

“The Fayette Chamber’s strength lies in collaborating with community partners like the Fayette County Board of Education and the CAF Dixie Wing, and using our collective expertise in designing programs like AIM HIGH! that will help train the next generation of industry professionals,” said Colin Martin, President and CEO of the Fayette Chamber of Commerce. “We understand that having a strong talent pipeline is critical for the health of our business community.”

“Our vision is to inspire the next generation of pilots, mechanics and citizens in Georgia,” said Dixie Wing Development Director Chris Madrid. “We also are working to assist educators in teaching WWII history using a WWII Home Front lesson plan series that meets state curriculum standards. This fall we assisted Fayette County K-5 instructional coaches by providing customized lesson plans for use in the classroom or at home, as well as a resource trunk of WWII artifacts from our museum collection.”

Forsyth said the Home Front lesson plan series is licensed by the CAF Dixie Wing for use by educators throughout the State of Georgia at no cost. One element includes Rosie the Riveter, representing the accomplishments and contribution of thousands of women to the war effort in the 1940s. A Stearman biplane trainer restoration also will serve as an education topic, designed for elementary, middle and high school students.