By Matthew Zacher ’18
Xavier offers an aviation elective course that uses computerized flight simulators to build flight experience.
The class is taught by Mr. Gale Hestenes, a Xavier faculty member, and the class is housed on Xavier’s campus, but is open to Brophy students.
Mr. Hestenes is a certified flight instructor and had a career instructing actual pilots.
“I got my pilot’s license before I got my driver’s license,” Mr. Hestenes said. “When you learn to fly at a young age, you feel the plane become a part of your physique; that doesn’t happen with older people learning to fly.”
Jarrett Davis ’18 is enrolled in Mr. Hestenes Aviation 1 class and said that Aviation has been a lifelong interest for him.
“Everyday we have to fly simulators,” he said. “That’s a pretty special thing, at least in high school, that kind of immersion. I mean it’s an elective class, so I’m still getting credit for something that I would do even if I wasn’t getting credit for it.”
Mr. Hestenes said that because the course is simulator based and rarely uses textbooks, students have more fun.
The class generally has no homework, but there are challenges among classmates during class, for example, to make a certain flight time.
The computer flight simulators have the ability to have all of the students in the class flying in the same server at one time.
Davis said that the in-class challenges are called missions.
“You have to go to from an airport to another, or you have to do an AvLog or something like that,” he said.
Davis added that the controls on the simulator are very realistic.
“The controls are realistic to how you actually control an airplane,” he said.
Mr. Hestenes said that aviation is like a language because of the complexities of aviation lingo that can be found in the hefty aviation textbooks.
“It’s not a science credit,” he said. “But aviation is really an applied science.”
After participating in the course, Mr. Hestenes said that several students have moved on to become pilots and flight controllers.
“We’ve had some pilots come out of this course for sure,” he said.
Davis said the class is definitely for students with an interest in planes and aviation.
“For a long time it has been what I want to do,” he said. “It was a big thing for me, and I think it’s a major thing for a lot of people who take the class.”
The class tends to allow 10 or 12 students, and freshmen are typically not enrolled in the course.
“If you’re looking for a unique elective, something that you certainly haven’t done before, I would say it’s a great class to take, and it’s at Xavier too,” Davis said.