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‘Taking Off’: Two Moss Point Students Excel in Inaugural Aviation Academy

Two Moss Point High School students are months away from earning their private pilot’s license through an innovative partnership between the Moss Point School District and Aspire Aviation. The Moss Point Career and Technical Education Center is now home to Mississippi’s first Career and Technical Education Aviation Academy.

Moss Point High School buses juniors James Spain II and Linal Tickles to the Trent Lott International Airport for flight lessons each school day, where they earn Career and Technical Education credits for the almost two-hour class block.

“They are starting to pick up some of the finer skills of flying and getting to the point where they are pretty much taking off all by themselves, taxiing around and starting to make radio calls,” Aspire Aviation owner Quinton Dupper said. “They are really excelling. We have got two really smart students, and they are really putting a lot of focus and attention into their flight skills. We are very excited.”

Moss Point Superintendent Oswago Harper said plans for the program began in the 2021-2022 school year when he and the executives at the airport began discussing opportunities for area students. The district spent more than a year and a half ensuring compliance with Mississippi Department of Education requirements and obtaining the proper insurance. Moss Point School District invested about $40,000 to begin the program.

Initially, eight to 10 students expressed interest in the program. Those students participated in discovery flights and other conversations to gauge their fit. Spann and Tickles excelled in each area and were selected to participate in the program, which officially began in January 2024. They are scheduled to graduate high school with their pilot’s licenses.

“The goal is to try to get these students in at around 16 (during their) sophomore or junior year, and then have them kind of completing the program when they’re turning 17 or 18,” Dupper said.

The Federal Aviation Administration allows students to fly solo beginning at age 16. Students can test for the pilot’s license at 17. Candidates for a pilot’s license must complete a 50-to-60-hour online course component to prepare for

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