BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School District's new aviation course is at risk of becoming grounded before it takes off.
With school beginning on Monday, only eight students have signed up for Aerospace Technologies I at Nature Coast Technical High School. The course will be canceled unless 10 students register.
The district has pushed back the deadline for freshmen and sophomores to apply from Wednesday until Aug. 22.
Spokesman Eric Williams said the district is not happy with the turnout and that Marcia Austin, supervisor of secondary programs, is calling a group of 65 students who had expressed interest in an aviation program in a survey. He said high school principals will also work to promote the course during the first week of school.
The course, which would be a yearlong overview, has 25 available seats.
The course is the initial offering in what the district hopes will become an academy for high school students interested in careers in aviation. The ultimate goal is to give students a foundation in the industry, bolstering the local workforce and helping to attract new industry.
On Tuesday, the School Board officially approved a partnership between the district and Corporate Jet Solutions, which has helped bring the program to fruition.
Aviation experts have said the industry expects to see a big decline in the number of pilots, mechanics and other aviation workers in the next decade. Local officials think the Hernando schools could play an important role in training students.
Plans call for the aerospace technology track to eventually include four one-credit courses: Aerospace Technologies I through III and Advanced Technology Applications, which will be optional. Students are eligible to obtain Federal Aviation Administration ground school certification after completing the third course.
Students will not be flying on the district's time. To earn a private pilot's license, students would have to complete an additional 40 hours of instruction with a certified flight instructor.
Contact Danny Valentine at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432. Follow @HernandoTimes.