Jeremy Lohnes attends Aldergrove Secondary and was one of the students in the first Aviation Explorations 12 course in the Langley School District. Heather Colpitts Langley Advance

Langley aviation program has students’ heads in the clouds

A new program approved in June shows students the many career options in aviation.

A Langley School District teacher is showing students a career in aviation can take them around the world in a new course approved in June.

A dozen students are in the Aviation Explorations 12 course which is taught evenings at the Langley Education Centre this autumn. Registration is now open for the course in January 2018.

“It’s not just flying,” noted David Thomas, the teacher and pilot.

The course touches on all aspects of aviation, including flight, maintenance, administration and even some related careers such as air traffic control.

Thomas is a testament to lifelong learning. He went back to school at 45 to become a teacher in 2009, actually attending university classes at the same time as his daughter.

He’s been with the school district since 2010 teaching teaching courses such as humanities and English, but before that and university, he flew.

“I started learning to fly in Grade 12,” he said.

Thomas grew up in Cloverdale where he found inspiration in the skies.

“Every time I was outside I would watch airplanes doing maneuvers overhead,” he said.

He started his aviation education at the Langley Regional Airport and took an aviation program through Trinity Western University.

Thomas was an instructor for about eight years before he took to the skies for humanitarian flying for about a decade in Africa.

Nathan Franklin, graduated in 2016 and works in upholstery and cabinetry but he has dreams of following in family members footsteps, family that served in the military.

“I want to be a fighter pilot in the air force.”

Thomas “was one of my teachers back in high school,” Franklin said.

Franklin liked his teaching and jumped at the chance return to learning. The course showed him just how much is involved in aviation before a person even gets into an aircraft.

Aviation requires a diverse skill set, including math, problem solving, and physical sciences (geography, mapping and more), with even more skills needed for non-flight jobs.

The course is scheduled again starting in January. Anyone interested in finding out more can find out details on the School District 35 website’s Langley Education Centre section.

“It’s helped me realize that you can make anything fun to learn and it’s just really driven me to continue to pursue a career in aviation,” Franklin added.

The program has hands-on help right on its doorstep.

“We have a great relationship with the Langley airport management,” Thomas said.

So in addition to classroom work, the students have also been to the airport to meet pilots, crew, volunteers, business owners and more.

Despite being labelled 12 and is a Grade 12 credit, the course is open to students in Grades 10 to 12 from any local school. Thomas is looking at creating another aviation course that includes a work experience component.

“One of the things with the new curriculum is you can take different courses at different times,” Thomas explained.

Jeremy Lohnes, 16 year old student at Aldergrove Secondary, was able to attend because the course was in the evenings.

“I’ve always been interested in the flight side of it. I know I want to get my private pilot’s licence,” Lohnes said.

He’s also interested in education so may look at teaching within the aviation sector.

Langley Christian School Grade 12 student Timna Dumitra wants to fly but is unsure whether that’s through the military before commercial flying or something more adventurous such as being a bush pilot.

“It’s just a fun course and it helps educate me on what the environment of the industry is actually like,” she said.

The 17-year-old recommends the course for anyone wanting to explore the many career options.

“You can’t go wrong with learning,” Dumitra said.

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