WYANDOTTE, Okla. — An area high school has come up with a unique way to get students interested in STEM technology and get their career off the ground.

It’s not the real thing, but Wyandotte High School sophomore Jack Jones has a much better idea of what it’s like to be at the controls of a jet fighter than most people his age. He’s one of 56 students at the school participating in the Chief Bearskin Aviation Prep Academy.

“You can adjust the amount of wind, the amount of visibility you have while flying the plane on the simulator and it’s a pretty realistic experience when you’re flying,” said Jones.

And Dana Morisset, the high school’s aviation administrator, says that’s exactly why the district offers the curriculum, which takes three years to complete.

“This opportunity for small schools is amazing because we have so many opportunities in aviation industries not just as a pilot but also in drone operations, this affords our students opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise get,” said Morisset.

She said there are several companies in and around northeast Oklahoma that have a variety of jobs perfectly suited for students who complete the program, whether they go on to become actual pilots or the burgeoning drone industry.

“There are countless jobs in construction management, surveying, um real estate uh there’s just so many opportunities that are available for a remote pilot as well,” said Morisset.

She adds it’s a great way to get students interested in physics, like Bernoulli’s principle, which makes flight possible by creating lift and the factors that affect it.

“We build some stuff to like we made a wind tunnel to see how wind affects wings and different shapes of the wings,” said Talon Wyrick, Wyandotte H.S. Sophomore.

Grant money funds the program, which is named after Leaferd Bearskin, who was Chief of the Wyandotte Tribe for nearly 30 years and was a decorated bomber pilot in both World War II and the Korean War.