Two students take off thanks to the Aviation Academy of the Sainte-Croix vocational and technical training center.
Carlos Alexander, senior at St. Croix Educational Complex and Cylius Gordon, senior at St. Croix Central High School, recently completed their first solo flights, the first step towards obtaining a pilot’s license.
CETC Director Vincent Gordon, unrelated to Cylius Gordon, said the Aviation Technology program is a four-year training academy “that produces the most qualified graduates for employment in the global industry. of aviation and the army “.
“Conversations have already started with Hampton University to see how CTEC can partner with the Hampton aviation program,” he said.
Alexander, who has been enrolled in the academy for three years, successfully completed his first solo flight on October 1, while Gordon, who spent four years at the academy, completed his on October 17.
The 30-minute flights consisted of three take-offs and landings, using the standard traffic model and taxing the aircraft.
“The experience has been great,” Alexander said in a statement issued by the Department of Education. “I was nervous the first time I went up without an instructor and did the takeoff and landing on my own, but I had to pull myself together and realize this was something I was training for. I had to go there and do what I was taught and use all the skills that I had mastered.
Alexander, whose family emigrated from St. Lucia to St. Croix in 2018, said his interest in aviation began that year during a visit to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, in as part of a school trip.
“After visiting and experiencing the various interactive exhibits, I came to an area that Boeing had set up with aviation information,” he said. “I fell in love with it and from that moment I understood that I had to become a pilot.”
Gordon’s interest in aviation began closer to home.
“My mother worked at Seaborne at the port of Christiansted, and I always saw the planes land and take off on the water,” he said. “It started my interest because I love airplanes.”
This first solo flight was a big moment for him.
“Knowing that the instructor was not on the plane that day, I had to make sure everything was perfect,” Gordon said. “As I was doing the model and getting ready to land I looked to the right and saw that there was no instructor and that’s when I was touched. “
Instructor Ira Williams has run the academy since 2012 and is the owner of Yellow Breast Aviation, which specializes in flight training, aircraft repairs, charter flights and air tours. His career has included work as an aircraft mechanic in the US Navy and locally at Seaborne Airlines.
“Flying was a hobby of mine, but it ended up being a business,” said Williams. “I love to share my knowledge and skills with our new generation of airmen. “
Williams said the CTEC Aviation Academy not only offers students the opportunity to explore the aircraft “from an aerodynamic and pilot perspective, but also from an engineering perspective.” He said the students learn the types of airplane engines and how the airplane works.
Since completing his first solo flight, Alexander, with Williams in the cockpit, has completed two of the many required cross-country flights to St. Thomas and Puerto Rico.
On November 17, he scored 98% on the Private Pilot’s Written Examination in Puerto Rico, scoring 59 out of 60 correct questions. Gordon is currently studying for the written exam.
The two student pilots are aiming to obtain their private pilot’s license at the end of December or in January. This will require an additional nine hours of solo flying, additional country flights, an oral exam and flight observation by an independent aviation professional. Both plan to study aviation after graduating from high school in May, with the goal of becoming professional pilots. They encourage their peers to pursue their dreams.
“Just keep achieving that goal, never give up and always do your best,” said Cylius Gordon.
“Keep following your dreams and stay determined,” Alexander added.