One of the main interests of the North Valley Aviation Association (NVAA) is to sponsor high school students in Chico, Calif., for participation in the Summer Flight Academy (SFA) program.
Each year four local high school students are given the opportunity to participate in a two-week course that includes ground school and 10 hours of flight in the left seat of a general aviation airplane. In June NVAA SFA completed its sixth year with a total of 24 students having graduated from the program, three of whom have completed flight training and have succeeded in earning their private pilot’s license.
The idea of the SFA was originally developed by Dick Perkins and is continued by NVAA board members John Patrick, Tom Alyward and Floyd Sanderson, who have successfully executed the 2011 program as Mr. Perkins transitioned into retirement.
The selection process starts with meetings with area high school vocational counselors, posting fliers and giving a presentation to interested students. The application process involves completing a form and essay for the interview. This year’s panel interviewed 13 students. The selection is based upon the student’s desire, interest in aviation, a positive attitude not only as it relates to the program but toward their families, fellow students, their school, and their city. The flight school, Air Carriage, once again agreed to provide the aircraft, instructors and necessary training materials.
After the selection process, Dan Jay Aircraft Sales hosts an orientation “meet the parents” night in which students are briefed about the SFA process and provided NVAA logo polo shirts and Jeppesen flight training kits. The 10-day program is quite intense: The students meet at 8 a.m., then after a pre-flight briefing they fly until about noon when lunch is provided at the airport SubStation Deli. After lunch, the students attend ground school until 4 p.m.
Upon completion of the program each student will have piloted a Cessna 172 for 10 hours, 10 hours of initial observation experience and attended 30 hours of ground school. As a special bonus on the last day they are allowed to fly a new Diamond DA 20 two seat trainer. Finally, a graduation dinner is hosted by NVAA at The Gooney Bird Bar & Grill to honor the graduates by providing them with a certificate of completion and a framed photo of the cadets. It is traditional to have a “roast” when the cadets reflect on their experiences and have a little fun with the flight instructors.
Annual SFA costs exceed $10,000 each year and are funded by local businesses, individuals and proceeds from the Chico Air Show. As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, donations made to NVAA SFA are tax deductible and can be mailed to PO Box 6856 Chico, Calif., 95927 or using Pay-Pal by visiting the association’s website