This summer, Southeastern University (SEU) became one of 11 universities in the U.S. to be awarded a contract with the U.S. Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) Flight Academy program. Conducted at universities across the nation, the Air Force JROTC Flight Academy, Chief of Staff Private Pilot Scholarship program, is an eight-week summer aviation training course that allows high school students to complete a private pilot certification.

The scholarship program is intended to combat a national pilot shortage that the U.S. is currently experiencing. Both commercial airlines and the military are lacking sufficient numbers of pilots to keep up with the need. The Flight Academy also encourages diversity within the aviation industry. According to the U.S. Air Force, “Women make up less than 6 percent of pilots, and minorities represent less than 10 percent.” The 125,000 cadets currently enrolled in high school Air Force JROTC make up the Air Force’s most diverse program.

SEU welcomed its first group of JROTC students on June 3 when eight students arrived on campus and began training for their private pilot certification. SEU is hosting a diverse array of students in this summer program from Puerto Rico, Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, North Dakota, Colorado, and Florida. These students include three women. Seven of the students are high school juniors or seniors, and one is a college senior. The high school students applied through their JROTC program to receive their scholarships through the U.S. Air Force, and the college student applied through her university’s ROTC program. Out of 10,000 applicants, only 150 were chosen to receive the scholarship.

The students completed coursework through SEU, earning them six credits. This includes ground training such as emergency medical techniques while flying as well as learning aviation technology. They also flew once every weekday at Lakeland Linder International Airport with certified flight instructors.

Students who successfully complete the Flight Academy program will be awarded their private pilot certification, which allows the individual to fly a private aircraft anywhere as long as they are in compliance with the airspace regulations set by the country of destination. The students will also be required to join the civil air patrol with funding from the U.S. Air Force, which allows the students to continue to fly one to two times a month.

During the program, the JROTC students lived on SEU’s campus and were supervised by two chaperones. They were transported to and from the airport each day and they also ate meals together.

SEU plans to continue hosting JROTC students and hopes to have 20 students for the summer of 2020.

Source: Southeastern University