Redbird simulator teaches high school students to fly

This is as close to the real thing as you can get, and the pilot flying this simulated plane, an 11th grader, is just 15-year-old.

"I want to join the Marine Corps when I get out of high school, but right now I want to find a way where I could learn the ins and outs of an aircraft," Joseph Lopez said.

Lopez is a student at the Academies at South Mountain where he's studying airplane mechanics and learning how to fly.

"This is our Redbird, our FAA certified full-motion high-resolution simulator," Principal Brian Guliford said.

Principal Guliford says the simulator is new to the curriculum this year and is a tool that will give students at this transformative school hands-on experience. The simulator can be programmed so students can practice things like take-offs and landings.

"This machine, this simulator gives our students the opportunity to gain some perfunctory flight experience as part of the tail end of our ground school class as they emerge into flight," Guliford said. "The FAA regulates the requirements to qualify as a private and commercial pilot and so where all that begins is with simulation time in a certified simulator so the students can begin that experience."

"Honestly, this is a really big thing for me," Lopez said. "Aviation has been a really big thing in my childhood. It's something that I have always wanted to do."

Anywhere from 12 to 15 private pilots are qualified in a school year from the Academies at South Mountain. With the right amount of practice and guidance, Lopez might be one of them.