Have you ever wondered what the earth looks like from the clouds? Have you ever looked up in the sky, watched a jet flying high above and thought that has to be the coolest job in the world? Have you wondered what it takes to design and build, or maintain these huge aircraft? What about how they get from New York to Los Angeles and everywhere in between without crashing into another airplane? Have you ever dreamed of flying but thought you were too young or that it would just be too expensive? If you said “yes” to any of these questions, then maybe you are a good candidate for the Southwest Secondary Learning Center’s (SSLC) Aviation Program.

What is the SSLC Aviation Program?

The SSLC Aviation Program is a one-of-a-kind program offered right here in Albuquerque, NM. There are a few high schools across the nation that offer a way to get a pilot certificate, but our Aviation Program is the only “Industry” program that focuses on the 4 main career avenues in the aviation industry; Engineering, Maintenance, Air Traffic Control and of course Pilot/Flight. By being enrolled as a student of SSLC, you will have the opportunity to learn all about the aviation industry and the many career paths that you can explore. One of the most popular routes is flight, and yes, you can learn to fly in a safe, structured program at a fraction of the cost regularly associated with learning to fly. You will learn about what it takes to maintain all types of aircraft and keep them airworthy and safe to fly. You will learn what Air Traffic Control is responsible for and what you need to know to start a career as a controller. Lastly, you will learn the beginning concepts of structural and computer design and engineering so you can prepare yourself to pursue a career in the design and building stages of an aircraft. This program is more than a building block toward a lifestyle in aviation.

The Aviation Program here at SSLC is a true career pathway into the aviation industry. Furthermore, by learning to fly early in life, you will gain a much needed competitive edge since you will have “end user” experience that will make you more marketable to “non-flying” aviation industry employers. You will derive a sense of accomplishment and pride few your age will know. You will set yourself apart from your peers who walk the earth while you choose to fly above it. You will also be counted among those known as aviators; a close community relationship you will treasure for the rest of your life.

Are there any enrollment requirements?

Yes, there are requirements to enroll and stay enrolled in the Aviation Program. The requirements are both academic and behavioral. Our school does not have a big football program like all other public high schools, so the students in the Aviation Program are looked up to and regarded as the “Varsity” team. Some of the requirements that students need to be prepared to meet are:

1. Maintain at least a “B” average or 3.0 GPA.
2. Be a positive leader and a good example to your peers.
3. Complete your homework and other assignments on time and as expected.
4. Follow the school rules and conduct yourself in a positive, professional manner.

Again, these are only some of the guidelines to which the students in the Aviation Program must adhere.

So what are the classes like?

You can apply for the Aviation Program starting in the 8th Grade. You do not have to know what you want to do in aviation but you do need to be interested and want to learn. The first class everyone takes is an introductory class that will go over the history of aviation, aeronautic theory, and then an exploration of the aviation industry and the technological advancement through the years. You will also take courses on weather, human physiology as it pertains to flight, and of course classes on the following specialized topics:

• Engineering and Maintenance
Designing and maintaining the aircraft are two of the most intricate parts of aviation. We introduce the very basic fundamentals of engineering and design as well as pneumatics and mechanical principles. We do this in our SMART Lab. For example, you can design a wing for an aircraft on our computers, print it out on our 3D Printer and then test it out in an actual wind tunnel. You have to do approved projects and through our partnerships with local companies and higher education organizations, we have some fun and challenging aviation projects you can do. Students also have the potential to take college level courses specific to Engineering (through UNM) or Maintenance (through CNM) through our dual-enrollment program.

• Air Traffic Control
You will learn the very basics of what Air Traffic Controllers do, the different roles and responsibilities and the different types of facilities and equipment they utilize. You will get a chance to tour the three types of Control facilities that we are lucky enough to have in Albuquerque, including Albuquerque (ZAB) Center, one of only 20 such facilities nationwide. You can also dual-enroll with Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell (ENMU-R) to take more advanced classes and even intern at ZAB Center and the Albuquerque International Airport Tower.

• Pilot (Flight) Training
Safety is our number one priority! We have the best instructors available who themselves go through a special instructor qualification and background check before they are selected to participate in this program. We conduct the aviation ground school for both the Single-Engine Land Private Pilot Certificate and the Instrument Rating in-house. We recently acquired two FAA approved full-motion Redbird MCX Advanced Aircraft Training Device (http://www.redbirdflightsimulations.com/) more commonly called simulators.

If you want to learn to fly aircraft, you will start flight training at the beginning of your Junior Year (11th grade). You will start the flight training in our full motion simulators and then graduate to the real aircraft. After you complete your Instrument Rating, you will be eligible to complete a “glass cockpit” transition class where you will learn to fly using the full digital instrumentation of today’s most modern aircraft. Our Redbird MCX AATDs are equipped with the Garmin G1000 Instrument panel. You can also utilize the dual-enrollment program through ENMU-R and receive college credits for learning to fly.

At SSLC, we are constantly looking for areas in which to grow our Aviation Program. So stay tuned because we look forward to making additional offerings available in the future! Some of the areas we are eagerly investigating are Lighter-than-Air (Hot Air Balloons) and Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drones). This is a snap shot of the Aviation Program here at Southwest Secondary Learning Centers. If your curiosity is piqued, we are standing by to explain more about this truly unique opportunity. Give us a call at 505-296-7677 or email Daren Gallacher, Director of Aviation, at dgallacher@sslc-nm.com.