Zac Boyd is a new flight instructor at Paragon Flight Training program – and yet, he’s actually “old school” when considering he first became acquainted with Paragon Flight through an aviation program he participated in as a high school student at Fort Myers-based Evangelical Christian School (ECS).
Recognizing a unique opportunity to introduce teens to the world of aviation, Paragon Flight worked with ECS to create a four-year aviation curriculum at the high school level. Launched in 2014, the program is designed as follows:
- Freshman year: introduce approximately 18 students to aviation and the concept of flying as a hobby or a career
- Sophomore year: working with those students who continue in the program, begin book work and introduce simulators, focusing on building up student knowledge sufficient to take and pass the private pilot written exam
- Junior year: begin working with Paragon Flight Training’s Chief Flight Instructor, Jeff Wolf, to introduce students to the technical aspects of Canadian Regional Jet (CRJ) systems and a detailed understanding of the plane itself
- Senior year: begin actual flight training at Paragon Flight, either through private student funding or as part of the ECS scholarship program. For students pursuing an aviation degree in college, the Private Pilot’s License (PPL) earned in flight training through the ECS program equates to 8 to 12 credit hours – saving them thousands of dollars in tuition costs.
One of the highlights of the curriculum is the Discovery Flight, where every student gets a private ride with an instructor. Equally popular is the digital class, where students using desktop simulator software can virtually go into the air space together and be guided by real-life air traffic controllers practicing their craft.
In Zac’s case, he pursued a degree at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Dayton Beach. From there, he went to NASA, working on the assembly of many of the parts used in space exploration – a field made even more popular by the recent private space flights of Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson. Now he’s helping us train commercial pilots – positions so desperately needed by the industry. It’s a real pleasure to have Zac back in the fold – and definitely gratifying to know our ECS partnership is paying dividends in developing the future leaders of aviation – and even space!
‘The View from Here’ is an occasional blog series written by Chris Schoensee, President of Paragon Flight Training.