BREWER, Maine — Brewer High School was in jeopardy of losing its Air Force Junior ROTC program until the new director and instructor put together a flight simulator and curriculum to teach students to fly.
“They created a program that is basically a ground school,” Superintendent Jay McIntire said Friday. “We have a flight simulator in the program area, and they have created a flight-simulation class that is going to be part of the curriculum.”
The school was put on probation by the Air Force when fall enrollment in the school’s Air Force Junior ROTC program dropped below 10 percent of the student population.
Retired Lt. Col. Jay Winslow, who came to Maine after leading the ROTC program at Oklahoma State University, and retired Senior Master Sgt. Anthony “Tony” Campbell are now leading the Brewer program and created the Aviation Honors Ground School, a one credit upper level science class.
A total of 16 students signed up for the class, which starts Feb. 3, and the additional enrollment brings the number of Junior ROTC members in Brewer to 78.
“It has easily put us back above 10 percent,” McIntire said.
The cadet program consists of 40 percent academic studies, 40 percent leadership skills and 20 percent wellness education. The program teaches teens about getting their bodies in shape and eating right, and one class a week is dedicated to physical training.
The program’s academic studies include the science of aviation, leadership, space and astronomy and global studies.
The Brewer program, one of two Air Force Junior ROTC programs in the state, started in 2007 and is one of around 950 programs across the United States and selected Department of Defense schools in Europe, the Pacific, Puerto Rico and Guam.
To enroll in the new aviation class, students must have already taken algebra, geometry and earth science; they must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0, with at least a “B” or higher average in the Junior ROTC program; and at least two recommendations by faculty outside the Junior ROTC department.
Winslow and Campbell used equipment available to create the new flight simulator.
“They basically took an existing computer and got the controls to attach to it and the basic software,” McIntire said of the program leaders
The rudimentary flight simulator is a great way to give students hands-on training, the superintendent said.
“It does the same thing — you get to practice,” he said.