According to a study from the 2018 Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook, 790,000 new pilots, 754,000 new technicians and 890,000 new cabin crew will be needed over the next 20 years.
Williston High Schools Aviation Program is using flight simulation programs to help students reach those numbers.
“Mr. Sando was very nice and courteous by letting us get up in the air,” said Tytus Lee, WHS student.
Lee, who is only 15, along with some of his peers are like most kids by way of owning a valid driver’s license, but there’s something special that sets them apart.
“We scheduled a time with overland aviation and we got to prepare assessment for flight. I got to sit in the pilot seat and got to fly the plane completely on my own,” said Lee.
“I have flown in the back seat of multiple airplanes and stuff like that, but I had never taken full control until this time,” said Jacob White, WHS student.
Flying through XWA’s international airport has built confidence and know-how — but the majority of this comes from Williston High School’s new aviation program, where students learn. Aerodynamics, Tower Control and Plane mechanics using different flight simulators, but oddly enough it’s not the class that came easy.
“It actually isn’t all that similar to the simulators because the simulators are more difficult. You don’t have a bearing on how level you are or anything like that. You have to simply use the instruments provided whereas in an airplane you can feel when something is going wrong,” said White.
But nonetheless, the simulator does prepare you.
“The simulator prepares you almost more than flying through an actual plane would because you do have to focus more on the instruments while going through the simulator. Which develops a good habit,” said White.
West Fargo, Minot, Bismarck and now Williston are the only four cities in North Dakota that offer aviation programs granting opportunities to students who just want to try something new.
“I really love the simulators and all the lessons. It’s helped me learn all about aviation because I’ve been really interested. I’ve really learned a lot and so much more and I’m now growing some experience in it,” said another WHS student.
Something course instructor Thomas Sando said he wish he had when he was younger.
“So this is an opportunity that if I had been able to have it when I was in high school, I would’ve been in here with these kids,” said Sando.
Williston’s Aviation Program has been up and going for a little over two years and is proud of the direction they are going.