Oklahoma Leading the Way in Aviation Education
Vol.8 Issue 4
Group of students with hands on top of each other over table

In high school classrooms across Oklahoma, an aviation movement is occurring. Thanks to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) they have developed a new, four-year curriculum that is spreading into schools across the state. The program is being adopted by independent schools at a record pace.

Over the past few years, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission has been an instrumental driver and advocate of this curriculum. With a shortage of pilots and aircraft mechanics, supporters are looking at ways to solve workforce challenges and to ensure that the state’s second largest industry continues to soar. Today, Oklahoma is ranked third in the nation for implementing AOPA curriculum with nearly 30 schools teaching it. More schools continue to get involved as future growth is anticipated for the 2022-2023 school year.

Last year, the Aeronautics Commission was awarded a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Workforce Development Grant to further support the implementation of AOPA’s curriculum. This effort has increased awareness of Oklahoma’s educators helping to bring concepts of aviation and aerospace into classrooms. One of the foundational aspects of receiving the FAA grant was the ability to have five high schools become recognized as “Aviation High Schools of Excellence.”

The five schools included Ada High School, McAlester High School, Mustang High School, Okmulgee High School and Pryor High School. Each of these institutions were early adopters of the AOPA program. Several of the schools are already in their third year or beyond in implementing the curriculum. Due to their enthusiasm and expertise, these schools have been selected to assist with what is expected to be tremendous growth in Oklahoma's aviation education in our state. Nearly 50 Oklahoma high schools are scheduled to implement the program next school year and will serve as hubs for aviation STEM activities and professional development for teachers.

Young girl with backpack on flightline

“We are very pleased to recognize these five high schools as Oklahoma Aviation High Schools of Excellence,” stated State Director of Aeronautics, Grayson Ardies. “Each of these schools has demonstrated a commitment to the implementation of strong aviation education programming, not just through high school coursework but through the development of vertically aligned Pre-K-12 aviation programs and activities. Many professionals in the industry have long-desired this aviation-focused, primary-level education curriculum to get students started on an early flight path to joining a possible aviation or aerospace career.”

Norman Public Schools recently announced their intentions of developing an aviation and aerospace-focused high school. To learn more about the program visit www.oac.ok.gov/aviation-education.

Federal Aviation Aministration (FAA) seal