Twenty-six students are currently taking the aviation physics and aviation weather classes taught by Mr. Ed Beidas. Through a partnership with the aviation department at Lewis University in Aurora, the Proviso East students are learning the physics and math involved with flight and getting hands-on experience on flight simulators.
The program began with ten students during the 2010-11 school year, and it has grown steadily since. Taught as a college-level class, the students who are taking the class are selected for their math and science skills.
"We have to select the top kids for it since it’s rigorous in math," Mr. Beidas said.
Along with the math skills and physics knowledge to successfully pilot an airplane, the students also get experience on a flight simulator. Throughout the period, they must fly the plane through a flight plan and then successfully land it with help from the air traffic controllers on the simulator.
"You have to pay attention to what you’re doing and what they’re saying so that you don’t crash," said Ramiro Galvez, a junior.
Destiny Morrow, a junior, said that Mr. Beidas has the students learn about different aspects of the planes and flight through other hands-on projects such as making paper airplanes to learn about wing spans.
"He likes everything visual," said Empress Harris, a junior. "That makes everything easier to understand."
Mr. Beidas said that the classes can help in possibly encouraging the students to pursue careers in aviation, including as an aeronautical engineer, pilot, aviation maintenance worker, aviation manager, and airport security worker. All five careers are majors through Lewis University’s aviation program, which he plans to have his students visit soon.
Mr. Beidas said that while the students in the class cannot earn their pilot’s license since the Federal Aviation Administration requires all licensees to have at least 40 hours of flight time in a real airplane, he is hopeful that he will be able to expand the program with more computers for the simulators.