This school year, students were exposed to lots of new ideas and subjects as they went through ground school class. Most didn’t have a lot of previous exposure to aviation. Some of them are also looking forward to gaining more experience getting some real flight time. Students enjoyed ride-along opportunities to observe their peers during training, and explored local aviation with various field trips. Robbie Hakes, a junior at Thunderbird Adventist Academy, has jumped the solo flight hurdle and is working on obtaining his private pilot license before starting his senior year.
Robbie says, “Aviation is a passion for me. In fact, I couldn’t wait to graduate from elementary school so that I could start the journey to becoming a pilot with the AWA-Thunderbird program. I couldn’t wait to begin training, and I was hooked during my first flight lesson. I love being challenged, and flying an airplane [especially at this location] is a challenge.
I’ve worked hard at the school to pay my school bill so that I can have some money to use for flying. I am amazed at what I have been able to accomplish so far, thanks to the support of my family and generous donors. One of the best days of my life was the day I passed the FAA pilot knowledge exam; but, I will never forget my first solo flight. Mrs. Simmons and I were flying around the Scottsdale traffic pattern when she asked how I felt about my control of the aircraft. I responded that I felt comfortable. Subsequently, she requested a full stop landing, and we taxied to the ramp. She wrote the endorsement in my logbook, pulled out her handheld radio, and said “I’ll be listening,” as she hopped out and closed the door. I made my circuit and landed safely! I love flying and look forward to receiving my private pilot license and progressive training for the next level. My plan for my future is to become a corporate or charter pilot, perhaps even in some form of mission service. Being able to achieve my dream of aviation is truly a blessing.”
A large group of Thunderbird Adventist Academy (TAA), alumni and friends, joined us this spring for the annual aviation breakfast, as the school wrapped up its alumni weekend events. Sponsored in part by TAA, this event has been growing in the last couple of years bringing a fun and casual atmosphere, with the opportunity to fellowship and to learn more about the AWA aviation program here.
We are blessed to have a great partnership with the Arizona Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. They allow AWA to be based at TAA. It’s a win-win. Since aviation is strongly woven through the history here at the school, there is much interest to see it thrive again. With AWA providing the aircraft and staff for this homeland mission project, the ability to get flight-related experience is again something that is drawing students to the academy. We are excited to be able to provide this unique option to young people at TAA and are grateful for those who are cheering us on, supporting in various ways and praying for our success. Despite some challenges, we are receiving blessings and making headway as we work with students on the ground and flight program.
Visit TAA’s webpage here