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New SPS choice program will allow students to soar

A private aircraft soars through the sky
A private aircraft soars through the sky

Applications for Fly SPS are being taken through 5 p.m. on March 27.

A program that starts this fall will allow Springfield Public School students to explore careers in the aviation field.

Applications are being taken now for Fly SPS, a collaboration between the school district, Ozarks Technical Community College and Premier Flight Center.

Ben Hackenwerth, executive director of Innovation and Information at SPS, said Fly SPS was the brainchild of the district’s superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan.

Sophomores are invited to apply, and 10 will be chosen through a lottery and interview process to begin the five-semester program as juniors this fall.

At the end of their senior year, participants will have their private pilot certificates. The program will be paid for by SPS.

Kyle McKee is department chair of aviation at OTC. He said students will be able to continue at OTC or elsewhere to earn their commercial pilot certificate to work in agriculture, skydiving, aerial photography and more as well as flight instructors.

"And there are numerous jobs all over the country for that, " McKee said. "So, that's a very common route that many students will take."

Working as charter pilots or for airlines would require additional training.

McKee said aviation is an excellent field to go into with many opportunities for jobs.

Hackenwerth said Fly SPS will provide a tremendous benefit for students.

"We're trying to fill an obvious workforce need as well," said Hackenwerth. "But, you know, students in this program — they'll graduate and have the ability to graduate with their private pilot license and an Associate of Science Degree in Aviation Flight Technology."

Students in the program will do an exploration of the aviation field, take a pilot foundations course, complete around 200 hours of flight time and have the chance to do an internship or job shadowing in the field of aviation.

Students who are chosen through a lottery system will be narrowed down to 10 after going through an interview process and taking an FAA required medical exam.

To find out more or to apply, visit

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.