Sterling HS students take flight in aviation program

Moving carefully around his assigned aircraft, high school senior Christian Colon of Sterling Aviation High School diligently checked the fuel tank valve, cabin and wing flaps as part of the required pre-flight checklist prior to takeoff. 

After two reschedules, a day filled with clear and sunny skies finally arrived for Colon to complete his first solo flight at the Pearland Regional Airport as the first among six students moving a step closer to receiving a pilot license. 

Colon along with his peers are a part of Sterling’s long-standing aviation program, which allows students to graduate with an associate’s degree from Houston Community College, as well as a Level 1 pilot’s certification.  

“The students have the opportunity to obtain a private pilot’s license from the FAA,” Flight Instructor James Yokley said. “Students have to pass a written knowledge test, an oral test, a practical (flight) test, as well as log at least 40 hours of flight time including 20 hours of flight with an instructor and 10 hours of solo flight.”  

An alumni of Sterling—Class of ‘71, Yokley knows first-hand the anxiousness and excitement Colon and the other students are experiencing as they prepare for one of the hardest exams in their lives.  

“It was me and a few others just like Colon and his classmates that learned about the program when HISD began offering magnet programs at Sterling,” Yokley said. “Nearly 50 years later, it’s great to know that this same opportunity is still available to students. This is great first step for those wanting to get into the aviation industry because there’s a great demand for commercial pilots right now.” 

As peers and instructors awaited Colon’s return from his solo trip, classmate Delia Nava passionately continued her aviation lessons in hopes to be next in line to complete her first solo flight. The daughter of an aircraft mechanic, Nava is on her way to becoming Sterling’s first Hispanic female in nearly 15 years to obtain her pilot license at the campus. 

“My whole life I never knew what I really wanted to until I joined the aviation program,” Nava said. “After being pushed to join the program by my peers and Ms. Jones, it became second nature, and it immediately clicked that this was something that I wanted to pursue.”  

Currently, HISD is accepting applications until December 5 for Phase I of School Choice Programs for the 2020-2021 school year.  

As an early college high school, Sterling is trying to recruit up to 25 students for each magnet program available at the campus—Aviation Operations Pathway (aviation pilot), Aviation Maintenance Technology and School of Logistics and Global Supply Chain Management. 

To learn more about School Choice programs at HISD, click here. The application process is open for Phase I through Dec. 6 for acceptance into programs for the 2020-2021 school year.