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Oklahoma State University

Aviation Faculty Shares Passion for Flying

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Collage of photos of students in Belize exploring a plane

Matt Vance, assistant professor in aviation and space for the College of Education, Health and Aviation, took his time and talents abroad this summer when he traveled to Belize with his church to host a three-day pilot school.

Fifth- and sixth-grade students form Libertad Secondary School were immersed in all things aviation as they learned about being a pilot. Vance taught the students about Belize Civil Aviation Regulations (BCARs), aeronautical charts, weight and balance, weather evaluation, radio communications, principles of aerodynamics, engines and basic aviation systems. The students also participated in daily design, construction and flying contests of progressively complex, unpowered aircraft.

“On the second day of teaching, I decided to hold an impromptu quiz,” Vance said. “To my utter surprise, these young people got nine out of 10 questions right. That’s when I knew the students were really engaging and retaining the information I was teaching them.”

Students also had the opportunity to visit a Belizean airport where they met a pilot and got an up-close look at aircraft. The experience was a first for most of the group.

“I would do this again in a heartbeat,” Vance said. “And when they asked if I would come back, it really tugged at my heartstrings.”

Vance is a retired commander for the U.S. Navy Reserve, having spent 20 years as a naval flight officer. Prior to joining the OSU faculty in 2015, he served as a senior researcher and flight instructor for Parks College in St. Louis, Missouri. In addition to teaching flight and ground instruction, Vance coaches the OSU Flying Aggies Flight Team.

Plans to host another pilot school are well underway, and Vance is excited to share his passion for aviation with more Belizean students.

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