In February, Admiral Farragut Academy senior Anthony Navarro flew a Cessna 172 airplane on his first solo mission. A month earlier, classmates Vincent Kixmiller and Maxim Moghadam did the same. Such is life at Farragut, where the Aviation Academy is one of many signature programs that include Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, engineering, marine science, and scuba diving. While students at other schools might be focusing on an upcoming Algebra exam, cadets in the Aviation program diligently master the fundamentals of flight, both on campus — which houses a flight simulator — and at Albert Whitted Airport, where student pilots hone their skills in one of the many rented Cessnas on site.
The program, initiated by commercial airline pilot Rob Ewing in 1998, recently united with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to offer exclusive dual enrollment college classes. The expanded curriculum, taught by Mr. Ewing and retired Eastern Airlines captain Jose Hercher, provides a strong foundation for the program’s continued success.
Senior Adam Williams, who wants to fly helicopters like his father does, appreciates the discipline and knowledge his teachers bring to the program. “If it isn’t perfect, there’s more work to be done to get it there,” he says of Mr. Ewing’s classes. “It’s tough, but it’s good, because safety is his top priority. Mr. Hercher teaches tricks of the trade — if you need help, he’ll know it. They both have prepared me well for the next step.”
“It’s these kinds of specialty programs,” says Headmaster CAPT Robert J. Fine, Jr., “that set our graduates apart. The aviation program teaches them incredible responsibility — for themselves and others. The lessons learned in these real-life settings also increase self-confidence and communication skills.”