Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission Awarded Grant for Aircraft Pilots Program Totaling $491K

The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC) was awarded s $491,000 grant to establish an aviation workforce development program under Section 625 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. US Sen. Jim Inhofe worked closely with then-President Trump to establish the grant program for Aircraft Pilots.

(Photo: An Ada aviation student in the cockpit.)
In 2017, under the leadership of Ada Schools District Superintendent, Mike Anderson, and then-Director of Academics & Instruction Paula Kedy, Ada High School was the first in the state to offer the new AOPA curriculum.  Now employed by the Aeronautics Commission, Kedy has facilitated the signing of thirty-one Oklahoma schools to participate in the AOPA aviation program.

This funding will launch a statewide program that includes the training of teachers and the delivery of the “You Can Fly” Pilot and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Pathway High School Curriculum to students. This curriculum will provide high schools with Aviation and STEM laboratory equipment and/or supplies to ensure the implementation of meaningful aviation education. Through the program, the OAC will host eight regional Aviation and STEM Days for students as well as a high school Pilot Day.

“I have and always will be an advocate for preparing the next generation of pilots,” Inhofe said. “With this Aircraft Pilots grant, Oklahoma students will have ample professional development opportunities to become future leaders of the aviation industry. I am glad to have secured this funding for the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission and I look forward to seeing them utilize it in the coming years.”

Recognizing the need for a skilled workforce in the aerospace and aviation industry, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission has already been working to support Oklahoma high schools interested in offering an aviation curriculum developed by the Aircraft Owners Pilots Association (AOPA). The four-year, “You Can Fly” curriculum is offered free to schools committed to providing high-quality aviation STEM pathways for students.

“The Aeronautics Commission is grateful that the FAA selected our grant application on behalf of the State of Oklahoma for the Workforce Development Grant Program. This was truly a team effort from across the state and we are excited to get started with developing the next generation of pilots, engineers, and UAS operators to help further the state’s second-largest industry, aviation and aerospace,” said Grayson Ardies, Oklahoma State Director of Aeronautics.

The AOPA curriculum program consists of two pathways, the pilot pathway, and the UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) pathway. Schools may choose to implement one or both. The difficulty of the coursework increases each consecutive year, building upon the knowledge required to become a private pilot or UAS pilot.

“This program, by design, works with superintendents, counselors, and educators, to bring aviation into the classroom. One of the most important things we do at the Commission is to foster and encourage aerospace and aviation in Oklahoma. The AOPA curriculum is one of many ways we achieve that, but we need schools to partner with us,” said Ardies.

The registration period for schools wishing to apply to teach the AOPA curriculum is now open. Interested educators may access the application at aopa.org/apply. Applications must be submitted no later than May 31, 2022.

For more information about the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission programs, visit https://oac.ok.gov/aviation-education.