Young people considering a career in aviation are encouraged to apply now for an all-expenses-paid, 3-week flight training program at Aim High Flight Academy. Launched by the Air Force Recruiting Service this year, Aim High Flight Academy makes flight instruction and mentorship available to young people who may not have the opportunity or resources to learn to fly.
This Air Force Recruiting Service (AFRS) program provides young people ages 16 to 23 with training toward attaining a beginner-level flight certificate. Experienced instructors educate participants in the fundamentals of flying aircraft and flight safety, with the goal of achieving a solo flight by the end of the course.
While flight training is at the core of the curriculum, participants also receive a well-rounded experience with USAF personnel as instructors and mentors. “Not every student who comes to the program has to serve in the military,” said Maj. Tolan Hicks of AFRS Detachment 1. “They could go off into civilian career fields if they so desire. But this is an opportunity to spark that interest.”
According to Maj. Hicks, “We’re looking to extend an invitation to increase diversity in the Air Force and the military in general in the rated career fields,” including pilots, combat systems officers (CSO), air battle managers (ABM) or remotely piloted aircraft pilots (RPA).
“Our goal is to inspire the next generation and restore that luster of aviation,” said Capt. Victoria Palandech of AFRS Detachment 1. “We’re looking for people with a strong work ethic, ready and willing to be challenged, who will persevere in the face of a challenge.”
Taylor Streff, St Louis University ROTC Detachment 207 leader and graduate of Aim High Flight Academy, strongly encourages anyone who may wonder what it might be like to fly a plane to apply. “I’d only flown once or twice before I got there so I had an idea of what it was like, but I didn’t know I was going to love flying until I completed the program. That really helped me because now I’m going to apply for the pilot board in a couple of months,” said Streff. “I don’t know if I would have had the scores or motivation to apply for it without this experience.”
Capt. Palandech emphasized that this program wants to cast a wide net for applications. “Aim High Flight Academy is garnered toward those unaffiliated youth that don’t know they have an interest in aviation because they don’t know that it might be achievable for them,” she said. The academy could also benefit those who may have grown up in the military but are unsure if a future in flying is right for them.
“Offering students within inner-city walls a chance to attend the Aim High Flight Academy could change their trajectory in life,” said Maj. Hicks. “Offering them that mentorship piece and something they don’t get to see every day in their current environment in the inner city…this is an opportunity for them to get away from whatever they’re dealing with on a daily basis—and the peer pressure—and see people that have come from those same type of environments excel in life. This could hopefully be a game-changer.”
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Currently, the academy is offered in Milton, Fla., during three summer sessions lasting three weeks each. A total of 72 students will be accepted for the 2022 program. Expansion to other regions of the U.S. is possible in the future as applications increase.
There is no fee to apply for the program, and program costs—including meals and travel—are 100% paid for by the Air Force Recruiting Service. Students ages 16-23, in high school, or full-time college students in ROTC, the Air Force guard or reserve, or at the Air Force Academy who want to achieve a solo flight are encouraged to apply.
The Air Force Recruiting Service’s Aim High Flight Academy is accepting applications for 2022 through December 10, 2021.