Aviation program at Southwest HS giving students new opportunities

STEM class at Southwest HS building experimental aircraft

SAN ANTONIO – Southwest High School students involved in an aviation program are getting an opportunity of a lifetime.

Students are learning aviation history, using a flight simulator and building an experimental aircraft through the Supreme Dragon Aviation program that was established last year.

"We've had donations from the D. Howard Foundation to help with training for the curriculum, and a lot of it, like I said, it's come from our superintendent. Our school district has been proactive about providing this," said Rodolfo Urby, physics and aviation teacher at Southwest High School.

Students also learn from experienced professionals.

Ron O'Dea, with the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 35, mentors students and uses the flight simulator.

"It's an outstanding tool. It's very good for teaching the basics, just what do the words mean, how does it work and so on. So, then you can translate it to straight into an airplane," O'Dea said.

"From this program, I recently got accepted to attend the Advanced Air Academy up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin," senior David Gonzales said. "I had to meet plenty of friends. I got to learn more hands-on shop skills. I was able to fly in a helicopter ,and recently I just soloed a Piper Tomahawk, and I'm in the process of going for my private pilot's license."

Incoming senior Stephen Massey's his grandfather was in the Air Force for more than 20 years and inspired him.

"He just said (the Air Force) was amazing. He got to fly all around the world. I'm thinking about going into the Air Force, be a mechanic and work on the flight line," Massey said.

About the Authors:

Tiffany Huertas is known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.

Jason Foster is an executive producer at KSAT. He's worked in the news industry in Texas for more than 15 years, including as a photojournalist, and been at KSAT since 2015.