Warsaw’s aviation program takes students to the skies

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 10:33 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WARSAW, Ind. (WNDU) - There is an amazing class being offered at Warsaw Community High School that is engaging students in a way that truly sets them up for success.

Christine Karsten stopped by the Goshen Municipal Airport to learn more about their “Aviation Grounds School Program” and get a little lesson of my own.

Eric Coburn has loved planes since he was a little boy taking rides on his dad’s lap, making him the perfect person to teach Warsaw High School’s new aviation program.

“It is an opportunity for the students to get exposed to a career they probably never even thought of before,” explains Aviation Grounds School Instructor, Eric Coburn.

The goal is to get each student on track to get their private pilot’s certificate and there are three parts to that. You have the written test, flight training and check ride with an FAA examiner. Coburn focuses on the written part.

“The program that I teach ranges from aerodynamics all the way to weight and balance. So, they have flight planning, we have instrumentation, we have air space regulations, and of course everyone’s favorite are the FARs, the federal aviation regulations. That’s the rules. We also learn about the weather,” explains Coburn.

Noah Knepp says he didn’t know much about airplanes but decided to add the class because it looked cool. Layne Blocher, on the other, hand grew up loving planes, and he knew he had to take it. While their reasons for taking the class were different, there was one specific moment that had them both hooked.

“The first time I went up with Mr. Coburn in his airplane,” says Knepp.

“Sitting behind the yoke and having my hand on the throttle and taking the airplane off,” says Blocher.

Instead of just using flight simulators like a lot of schools, Coburn decided to buy his own plane.

“So, every one of them has flown our plane and the change, when we land is incredible,” says Coburn.

An experience, this instructor, with a true love for aviation, was willing to share with Christine.

Over the past eight years, Coburn has taught 121 students. Of those, at least 18 are going on to get their private pilot’s license. Seven are currently in college studying aviation, with three more on the way. Layne is one of those students. He got accepted into Purdue’s Aviation Program and has dreams of becoming a commercial pilot.

“Without this program, I wouldn’t have discovered aviation as my passion as what I wanted to do with my life,” adds Blocher.

Until just recently, Knepp was the youngest student to go through this program and get his private pilot’s license.

“It is neat cause I can walk up to a lot of people and tell them I am a pilot, and they are like, ‘what are you 20,21?’ No, I’m 17, I haven’t graduated yet,” smiles Knepp.

He has decided to bypass college but still has dreams of being a commercial pilot.

“The good deal with aviation is everything is federal so you go by regulations and licenses, and I can thankfully get every license I need here in Goshen,” continues Knepp.

A rare program, engaging different types of students, setting them all up to soar!

“It has changed their life and I see it every day. It has changed their life and it is actually changing mine too,” said Coburn.

Both Knepp and Blocher plan to be commercial pilots, so keep your eye out for them when you take your next flight.

Not only did Coburn and his wife buy the plane, but they also use their own money to take every single student up in the air. Its costs him, on average, more than $100 per hour.

Copyright 2022 WNDU. All rights reserved.