Valley Stream Central High School’s Aviation Club gives their students a chance to fly before being able to pursue their dreams of touching the sky. The club members have full use of a simulator equipped with a full yoke (control wheel), pedal, and throttle setup – along with the latest version of the Microsoft Flight Simulator. The landmark software meticulously recreates the functions of various commercial aircraft and has pilots contend with real-time weather and air-traffic control.
In addition to stepping into the cockpit, students in the club are also tasked with researching possible career paths in the aviation industry with some stating their dream is to take flight. Aviation Club member and tenth grader Samee Udin said he heard about the club from a childhood friend with whom he has shared a lifelong interest in aviation. “Ever since we were little, we really liked planes,” he said. “Everything involved in aviation from flying to ground and air-traffic control has all been part of our dreams.”
Before hopping into the simulator, club members read up on the basics of flying and the operation of the basic, single-propellor Cessna 172 plane, according to Samee Then, after getting the feel for flight, they move onto larger aircrafts such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 747. “It’s a great way to learn how to fly, and see what the controls are like,” he continued. “It’s a nice experience to get behind the yoke and see what the life of a pilot is like.”
Lately, he said, he has been working on his takeoffs and landings, and performing smaller flights between Philadelphia and John F. Kennedy International Airport in the simulator. He has also been researching the various career paths available at airlines such as American and Delta in the hopes of one day fulfilling his dream of becoming a commercial pilot. “I’ve always wanted to be a Delta pilot,” Samee said, “and I look forward to pursuing it.”
“Central’s all about exposure,” Principal Dr. Joseph Pompilio said, who also serves as the Aviation Club advisor. “We expose students to as much as possible in both education and careers.” Dr. Pompilio said he has long held an interest in aviation. His brother served as a T-38 jet trainer pilot for the Air Force and now works as a pilot for Delta Airlines.
The idea for the club came about in 2019 after the school’s physics program obtained the simulator for its curriculum. Because physics touches on a multitude of topics beyond flight, the machine didn’t get as much use as he would have liked, so he decided to launch the club with it as the centerpiece.
The club has proven a hit this year with nearly a dozen students taking part each week. Dr. Pompilio said he is working with the Central High School District Board of Education to obtain another simulator to keep pace with demand.