Young aviation enthusiasts get a boost

Clifton Hunter students to attend the Florida Institute of Technology’s weeklong flight camp

Pictured outside Island Air are, from left, Barrie Quappe, flight camp participants Kassandra Mattocks and Christopher Scott and CHHS Flight Club Director Alfred C. Gordon.

Aspiring pilots and aviation professionals in the eastern districts got a welcome boost recently thanks to a local scholarship.

The Zak Quappe Flight Scholarship donated $2,500 to the Clifton Hunter High School Chapter of the Cayman Airways Flight Club on May 27.

Clifton Hunter Flight Club Director Alfred C. Gordon noted the club’s key objectives are to get students motivated and interested in aviation and to promote self-discipline, while mentoring students on career choices in aviation.

With the donation, the scholarship joins other Cayman Islands organizations in sponsoring this year’s flight camp program, which will send 11 boys and eight girls to the Florida Institute of Technology’s weeklong flight camp at the end of the month.

Mr. Gordon notes a flight club was established at John Gray High School in 2001. In September 2010, the club started a chapter at Clifton Hunter High School. The club sought assistance from Cayman Airways, and as a result the club was renamed the Cayman Airways Flight Club, with chapters in both schools. Students interested in aviation are offered relevant information and guidance in their decision toward a career in the industry.

“Speakers from the industry are invited to share their experiences and to give career development advice, and the club activities also focus on introducing students to education institutions in aviation, provide exposure via introductory and discovery flights, as well as a computer flight simulator and radio-controlled model flying activities,” Mr. Gordon said.

Students take field trips to the Florida Institute of Technology Annual Flight Camp in Melbourne, Florida, the RCIPS Air Operation Unit and to Cayman Airways facilities and departments.

“Selection [to attend the camp] is based on attendance, behavior and genuine interest in the field of aviation,” said Mr. Gordon.

He also noted that for students who show aptitude in the field, the FIT Scholarship Assurance Program guarantees a minimum of US$10,000 per year toward tuition for any member of the flight club who enrolls at an undergraduate course at the college.

Club member Rajnea Coley will be pursuing a course in aerospace engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology in September, and former member Zachary Larsen is pursuing bachelor’s degree in aviation management and is a qualified Saab 340 pilot.

“During the week that we spent [at the camp], we engaged in several aviation activities, but my favorite was getting behind the flight controls. It was at that moment that I had no doubt in my mind that was what I wanted to do for a living. I can recall sharing my excitement with Mr. Gordon and [Christopher] Harris and seeing the proud smiles on their faces. They always encouraged and supported me every time we spoke about it,” said Mr. Larsen.

“While the trip [to Florida] was the most memorable, there were many other aspects of the flight club that I enjoyed, such as practicing on the flight simulator and having aviation related discussions with my peers.”

The Zak Quappe Flight Scholarship was set up to help young Caymanians become pilots. The scholarship has sponsored one young person in achieving this dream, and the scholarship committee says they view this current donation to the flight club as a perfect vehicle to use scholarship funds.

For more information on the scholarship program, contact [email protected] or [email protected] or visit the scholarship’s facebook page For more information on the Clifton Hunter High School Flight Club, contact Alfred Gordon at [email protected]