ALTUS, Okla. (TNN) - Altus Public Schools partnered with the Air Force to unveil three flight simulators unlike anything at any public school in America.
The realistic simulators are now part of the JROTC curriculum at Altus High School. A group within the Air Force called Air Force STEM made them possible exclusively in Altus, with the hope it will spark an interest in young pilots and expand to more schools across the nation.
The three flight simulators can all link together, allowing students to learn to fly together. The technology allows students to get as close as they possibly can to flying without actually getting in a plane.
"It’s real world. We feel like when we go in there, we take it very seriously because everything we do can relate to something that happens in the real world,” said Cadet 2nd. Lt. Jordan Guyton with Altus High School JROTC.
"It’s not just sitting in a class, learning what a gauge does, oh cool can’t use that, never going to use that or see it. We can actually use what we saw in the classroom and apply it to something else. Have a more hands on experience,” said Cadet Lt. Col. Savannah Scales with Altus High School JROTC.
There are 22 planes that the students can learn to use, each different than the others. Students also learn how to navigate through changing wind speeds and weather conditions. The simulators offer the chance to see what it really looks like to fly anywhere in the world, and even places out of this world.
"You take off and you can pick where you fly, you can fly in Altus, you can fly in Texas, you can even fly in space. You can fly over Altus, you can see the reservoir, you can fly over to Quartz Mountain and see the lake. It’s really crazy like oh that’s my house over there,” Scales said.
This is all provided by Air Force STEM, a group hoping to make a positive impact on the lives of students hoping that it leads them down a good path.
"We’re losing pilots constantly to the civilian world. The flight simulators are geared to get students starting in the 9th grade and moving them through high school with the hopes of the Air Force grabbing them, helping them into college level and possibly pulling some pilots or some engineers out of this,” said Nathan Covington, School Liason Officer and Air Force STEM Coordinator.
Altus High School is the only public high school in America this is happening at, and so far, it’s working.
"I’ve always wanted to be a pilot and I think this has just made that want stronger,” Scales said.
"I originally wanted to be a pilot, and this makes me want to be a pilot more than I used to. I get hands-on experience and this leads to me getting plenty of opportunities in the future,” Guyton said.
While it started at Altus High School, Air Force STEM says they don’t want this program to stop there. The plan is for it to continue to grow across Oklahoma and America.