#Program Spotlight: MHS Aviation Soars With Community Partnerships

MHS student Antonin Stoddard sits in a flight simulator at the MHS Aviation Lab.

Mustang High School Aviation Program Soars With Community Partnerships  

(Mustang, Oklahoma – November 1, 2022) – Many would be highly successful at the recently revived gameshow, Name That Tune, if given only a couple of notes of Kenny Loggins’ 1986 hit “Danger Zone.” Aside from the infamous bars played over a montage of jets flying to and from an aircraft carrier during the opening of the movie Top Gun and shared by 2022’s Top Gun: Maverick, the lyrics penned by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock contain the words “You'll never know what you can do, until….”  

The Mustang High School Aviation Program is one of the premier programs in the State, but it wasn’t until Senator Paul Rosino approached Mustang Superintendent Charles Bradley about the burgeoning aerospace industry in Oklahoma that MHS began the journey to new heights.  The program now provides industry-connected education pathways for Mustang students to connect directly with higher education, career tech, and industry partners, ensuring career readiness in the high-demand areas of aviation and aerospace. “It was just a short time ago (2019 to be exact), that this program had a model plane and a vision,” Aviation Program Director and Instructor Gary Knowles said.  “Senator Rosino and the leadership from AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) stood in the back of our classroom with Ms. Self and our Administration and set the wheels in motion for the program of today with eight functioning simulators, two licensed pilots, and so much more to come!”

At its inception, the program was designed to open doors for students, but it wasn’t until recently that the program has begun to broaden its horizons and bring in community partnerships.  Mustang High School has a rich history of working closely with Canadian Valley Technology Center to offer opportunities for students, but with the addition of the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program, the partnership has only grown.  “This high school program will lessen the time students spend in the adult program by almost one year,” CV Tech Career Counselor Kristi Stephens said.  CVTC Instructor Gordon Cooper said “high school juniors and seniors [many from Mustang High School] are focusing on the structure of aircraft with year one focused on sheet metal and year two focused on composite structured aircraft.”  

Another community connection was recently formed over the aforementioned Top Gun: Maverick when representatives from Devon Energy reached out to Mr. Knowles with an idea to use MHS flight simulators to help support their United Way “Give For Good” campaign that was to be themed around the 2022 hit movie.  “Initially, the idea was to allow Devon employees to donate and then gain simulator time,” according to Morgan Duckwall, Devon Energy’s Corporate Support Admin, “but as the idea evolved, it became more of an employee benefit, and was used in conjunction with the purchase of aviator shades [sunglasses] for employees, and to just raise awareness of the opportunity to “Give For Good.”  MHS Juniors Antonin Stoddard and Aramis Casper spent three days at the Devon headquarters in downtown Oklahoma City to set up and guide simulator sessions.  “We had a few ‘Top Gun-like’ fighter missions loaded in the sims, but most of the employees just practiced the cessna take-off and landing,” Stoddard said.  “It was a great experience for Antonin and I, according to Casper, “and I think the employees really enjoyed the experience.”

Mustang Public Schools’ Superintendent Charles Bradley is proud of the program, students and partnerships.  “We are very fortunate to have such a supportive community that makes opportunities like this a reality for our students,” Bradley said.  “We are so incredibly proud….  It has been amazing to see this program grow from inception to implementation and then garner the support of partners such as Senator Rosino, AOPA, Canadian Valley, Devon and more.  You truly never know what you can do until you give it a try, and we look forward to seeing how high this program, our students and our partnerships can soar.”  


About Mustang Aviation
Mustang Aviation is a program for students attending Mustang High School who are interested in Oklahoma's newest economic driver: Aviation, Aerospace & Aeronautics.  Students enrolled in our courses will have opportunities for hands-on career and industry experiences that will transform the traditional education environment to authentically connect student learning to high-tech industry readiness.  More information:  https://mhs.mustangps.org/academics/aero 

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