Students in Oklahoma will soon be the first in the nation to experience a mobile immersive aerospace classroom thanks to the non-profit group, Heartland Aeronautical Experience. Similar to other programs meant to inspire students to pursue a career in aviation, Heartland’s program stands out among the rest because it’s the first program to come to the students.
That’s right. Heartland’s program is a mobile classroom that comes to the schools rather than asking teachers to coordinate a field trip. The idea of the program is to bring the immersive aerospace experience to 200 students each day who might not otherwise be able to attend such a program. The program also inspires schools to encourage students to pursue a future career in aviation.
Students who attend the program will see and hear real-time air traffic control (ATC) transmissions, local weather and radar imagery, and local aircraft traffic. They will also experience fixed-and-rotor wing simulators.
The goal of the program is two-fold. It inspires students to pursue a career in aviation and encourages them to stay in school so they may reach their goals. Educators enjoy the ease of access to the program and Oklahoma’s aviation industry looks forward to a new generation of aviation workers.
Heartland’s program is the first of its kind and will hopefully inspire aviation experts in other states to start a similar program. However, Heartland’s mobile classroom isn’t quite ready for lift-off yet. They are still seeking much-needed funding to kick off the program.
This unique mobile classroom is set to reach a thousand students each week and it’s already receiving support from Oklahoma educators. Jerry M. Johnson, superintendent of Bethel Public School in Shawnee, Oklahoma, has expressed his support of the program and made a public request for funding in an interview with General Aviation News, “Every year that it takes for this project to become a reality is another year that we will lose a class of students to graduation and their opportunity to recognize the many positives of the Heartland Aeronautical Experience will be lost.”
Heartland’s mobile classroom is a win-win for educators, students, and the aviation industry. We hope to see this program receive the funding needed to make the vision a reality so it may inspire aviation industry experts in other states (like Mississippi) to start similar programs. With programs like Heartland, the future of aviation will be brighter than ever.