published: Sunday, March 04, 2012
Young Eagles provided a nest at Sebring Airport
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING - John Rousch has been, among other things, the technology education teacher at Lake Placid High School.
For 10 years, he said, the school, the Sebring Regional Airport, and the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1240 have worked together to bring a comprehensive aviation program to his school.
Students may take the FAA ground school, or help refurbish a 1958 single engine, two place, fabric covered Tri-Champ. The chapter includes the Young Eagles, which provides flight opportunities for young people between 8 and 17.
Recently James Ray, of the Aviation Education Foundation in Naples, offered a $75,000 donation so the program could build a home at the airport.
After visiting, however, and seeing the student enthusiasm and community support, Ray went home and sent a check for the full amount needed to construct the building shell -- $175,000.
A contractor has offered to work at cost.
Rousch is very excited. "The airport has been extremely supportive," he said.
"They let us use two hangars whenever they are available, but this will be something permanent."
Part of the 60-by-70-foot building will be hangar and repair space, the rest classrooms. The building will be on the flag line, meaning planes can taxi directly to it. The Young Eagles will hold their pancake breakfasts there.
Mike Willingham, the airport's executive director, is also excited about the proposed EAA Chapter 1240 headquarters, although he said the airport's only real part has been to donate the land.
Both Willingham and Rousch see opportunities in aviation's future.
"Globally speaking," Willingham said, "there is a growing pilot shortage. Experts say there will be a scarcity of pilots in the near future. The EAA and Young Eagles are fulfilling a real need."
"Boeing released figures predicting that between 2010 and 2029 there will be 23,000 pilot vacancies a year, and about 30,000 positions for repair personnel and technicians" Rousch said.
Beyond career opportunities, Rousch said the aviation curriculum requires high-level mathematics and science skills.
Willingham said the building project is still in the permitting phase, but should get under way in about four or five months.
Rousch said anyone with donations of cash or equipment is welcome to contact him.
Money still needs to be raised for the interior of the building.
Rousch can be reached at email@example.com, 385-8107 or 273-0522.
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