Magruder student using special pilot program to reach the skies

There are concerns that the projected pilot shortage nationwide could be even worse following the pandemic. 

According to Boeing's 2020 Outlook, the commercial aviation industry will need to fill 763,000 pilot positions along with 739,000 new maintenance technicians, and 903,000 new cabin crew members in the next 20 years. 

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An effort to get high school kids interested in the aviation industry is taking off - with Magruder High School in Rockville about to graduate its very first student, Victoria Wentt. 

The 17-year-old is set on being a pilot. 

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"As soon as we heard about it I was like mom I don’t care if u have to switch schools I want to do this program," she told Fox 5.

The AOPA You Can Fly High School Aviation STEM Curriculum is being offered in 450 classrooms within more than 200 schools in 38 states. A handful of those are located in the D.C. region, including Magruder, and this is the first year there will be a graduating class.

Teacher Michael Smith says there are 120 students in his program. By junior year, they have to decide whether they want to go for their drone license, or if they want to prepare for their ground knowledge test to be a pilot and then from there can go on to flight school. 

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"Without the AOPA school curriculum I don’t think I would even be able to afford to get this type of knowledge and it has opened up so many opportunities for me that I wouldn’t even dream of having," said Wentt. 

After graduating this June she plans on heading to college and eventually becoming a commercial pilot.