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‘Not Out of Reach’: JET-A Program Introduces Students to Careers in Aviation

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Forty students walked across the sunny tarmac into the hangar at Hawkins Field on Wednesday, June 12. In the center of the large matte white warehouse, a small wooden platform with wheels held PHI Air Medical’s school-bus-yellow rescue helicopter. 

Pilot JD Wells greeted the students and directed them to the aircraft’s interior. When it was his turn, Tyreese Porter climbed in and sat in the stiff pilot’s seat. He noted the tight fit and Well’s helmet above the seat. From the captain’s chair, he could reach all parts of the craft’s control panel, and he ran his hand across the joystick and touched the pedals. 

As Wells explained his background, an enthralled Porter attentively listened; the former military pilot represented everything that Porter had envisioned for his own future.

“He was ex-military, and he got into college and got to be like a medevac pilot for private companies and some public companies,” Porter told the Mississippi Free Press. “I’ve always wanted to be a helicopter pilot, but I didn’t know which route to take to get there. After talking to him … it just stuck out to me because it is something I feel like I want to do.”

Porter would not have uncovered the possibility of combining his dreams of military service, helicopter piloting and health care as early in his life as he did had he not attended the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority’s fifth annual JET-A program, “Fueling the Future of Aviation – Get Set to Jet!” The program included students from Jackson Public Schools and other students from Hinds and Madison counties. 

“JET-A, which is Jackson Municipal Airport Authority’s Education and Training Academy started five years ago,” JMAA Director of Communications, Marketing and Public Relations LSherie Dean told the Mississippi Free Press. “It actually started as a brainchild of a former commissioner. The commissioner’s dream was to get the students or the youth within our community more engaged

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