Galesburg Senior High school students use the summer to do various things. Some students work at full-time jobs while others may take the time to travel or complete coursework. Last summer, junior Kailyn Shepherd, took advantage of an opportunity that provided her with some everlasting memories and experiences that will assist her as she continues to follow her passion in aviation.
Kailyn headed to Pensacola, Florida to participate in the Aim High Flight Academy program. The no-cost program includes transportation to Florida, books required for the classes, food, and lodging.
The academy is a three-week program designed to teach and inspire future aviators between the ages of 16 and 23. According to Kailyn, participants learn anything from the basics from what makes a plane work to sitting in the actual plane and making it go off the ground. Multiple computer simulations and actual flights were also part of the training program.
According to Kailyn, "You get approximately 2 hours each day, as long as the weather cooperates, to fly and earn flight hours. You are there to learn and they make it easy for you to do that."
Kailyn credits her family for encouraging her to apply for the academy. Her mother knew someone who is also aspiring to work in aviation and encouraged her daughter to begin the application process.
The application process began in October when Kailyn needed a letter of recommendation from the school, as well as complete multiple Zoom calls with Women in Aviation and Jet Air, located in Galesburg. She was also required to have a minimum GPA of 3.5.
Kailyn hopes this experience will help her post-graduation plans. She intends to apply for the US Air Force Academy. She will continue to earn flight hours next summer to build as much experience as she can. She recognizes the application process will be rigorous to join the US Air Force Academy,. "I am doing what I can right now to make me better and qualified. I currently have approximately 15.5 flight hours, and this may help me when I am up against someone who possibly does not have as many flight hours."
She encourages anyone who has any interest in aviation to apply to the Aim High Flight Academy program, "Definitely apply, the worst they can tell you is to apply next year. It is a great experience. If you want it, the Sky's the Limit. You just have to try."
We look forward to seeing what the future holds for Kailyn and wish her the best as she pursues her dreams.