New program enhances aviation opportunities at Dunbar

11/20/2013 4:13 PM

11/20/2013 10:41 PM

Dunbar High School’s football field became an airstrip Wednesday with the landing of a helicopter.

“It’s cool,” said Jasmin Williams, 10, a fifth-grade student from Walton Elementary School. “It has ... how can I explain. I like the color. I like the way it looks inside.”

Helping students fulfill ambitions in the aviation and engineering professions is the goal of an educational collaboration by the Fort Worth school district, Tarrant County College and Bell Helicopter.

The three entities are boosting existing aviation academics/training offered at Dunbar. Their effort was showcased Wednesday with the landing of a Bell 407GX helicopter on a football field at Dunbar High School.

Superintendent Walter Dansby emphasized the importance of investing in aviation programs after he emerged from the helicopter.

De’Ovion Alexander, 10, a fifth-grade student at Walton Elementary was inspired by the landing.

“When I retire from football, I am going to be a helicopter pilot,” he said.

Training for the future

Dunbar High School offers aviation technology, engineering and urban development and business technology as part of the district’s Gold Seal Programs of Choice.

Under the new effort, students will get training to meet current and future industry needs as part of existing aerospace and engineering classes.

The program includes a pathway to jobs through training and a senior project that can help determine if a student can be recruited by companies such as Bell Helicopter.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” said TCC Trustee Gwendolyn Morrison, adding that students will be able to graduate from high school with a professional certificate. “This program cuts out all the guessing.”

The idea is to let high school students understand how math and science are part of aviation and engineering, said Franklin T. Knight, a Bell technician training manager.

Some students can either get practical training to fix or work on airplanes while others can study to become the engineers who help create a new generation of helicopters or planes, Knight said.

The collaboration is the latest investment made to Dunbar’s aviation program. The district is also planning to spend an estimated $1.75 million to add a hangar at Dunbar that will store airplanes and equipment for hands-on training.

The hangar project was included in an estimated $490 million bond package recently approved by voters.

An investment for the community

Althalo Henton, aviation teacher at Dunbar, said the investment in aviation programs will help elevate the school.

“It’s exciting for Dunbar and the Stop Six area,” Henton said. “I think this opportunity is need in this area to help prepare middle class workers.”

D’Angelo Brice, 16, a junior at Dunbar who wants to be an aerospace engineer,takes dual credit classes at Tarrant County College so he can be ready for college. The classes may also help him earn professional certification by the time he graduates from high school.

Brice took the helicopter landing as a good sign for Dunbar.

“It’s pretty nice,” Brice said. “It’s big boost to the community altogether not just Dunbar.”

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