Here’s a great opportunity to get kids’ feet off the ground this summer. On June 20, Channel Islands Aviation of Ventura County hosted its first-ever Summer Aviation Academy, for kids age 12 to 16. The program will continue throughout the summer and is held at the Camarillo Airport, located at 305 Durley Ave.

The three half-day sessions (Wednesday thru Friday) will consist of both classroom lectures and hands-on activities. Teens will learn the parts of an airplane and their functions, how to pre-flight an airplane and how radio communication works, air traffic control, N-numbers and the phonetic alphabet.

They will also learn to navigate and read an aviation map, complete a 30-minute log in a flight simulator, tour the control tower, and physically fly one of the planes, with an instructor present. Throughout the summer, there will also be guest speakers coming in to talk to the students, such as a pilot from Virgin America airlines.

The idea to host this summer aviation academy sprang from the law that commercial pilots must retire from flying at the age of 65.

“There is a forecast that by the year 2029, there will be a worldwide demand for approximately 500,000 pilots, so this generation will, hopefully, be a solution to that problem because they are the ones who will keep the aviation industry alive,” Flight School Manager Sarah Oberman said.

Many of this country’s senior pilots, from the baby boomer era, have begun turning 65 and will be retiring.

“Since a third of the work force is set to retire in the next five to 10 years, it will be difficult to find pilots to fly airliners and private aircraft, and will also affect flight schools, such as Channel Islands Aviation, and make it hard for us to find flight instructors,” Oberman said.

Mike Lozano, the chief flight instructor for the program, has worked for Channel Islands Aviation since 2005 and has been a flight instructor since 1998. According to Lozano, pilots only make up .019 percent of the United States population, and in the last decade, world population has increased, but the number of pilots has decreased.

Thus, the need to educate teens about airplanes and aviation careers developed into the call for a summer program here in Ventura County, one that is not only informational and interactive, but challenging as well.

“We build fences around airports for certain reasons, but it sort of sets up this physical, as well as a psychological, barrier that flying is not for everyone, but actually it is. Anyone can be a pilot if they’re willing to put in the hours and the work,” Lozano said.

Adam Sortomme, 16, of Newbury Park, has big dreams of becoming a pilot and getting his license to fly.

“I want the experience of doing as much as I possibly can in life, and I think learning to fly planes is a cool way to do that. So far in this program, I’ve learned a lot more than I thought I would,” Sortomme said.

On June 22, local teens flew a Cessna 172 Skyhawk airplane through the Camarillo skies.

“I loved it. When I was flying, I felt powerful, like I could do anything. Nothing could touch me or hurt me,” said Nick Mauzey, 14, of Newbury Park.

Another Newbury Park resident, 15-year-old Gary Baylis, had so much fun this week that he wouldn’t mind spending next summer in a plane as well.

“The academy this week was excellent. I learned so much. My favorite parts were the simulator and flying the plane. I would love to do this academy again,” Baylis said.

Lozano believes the program has been very successful so far.

“The kids are asking good questions, they’re paying attention and seem interested in learning all that they can this summer,” Lozano said.

Oberman is encouraged by how many young people are interested in aviation.

“It proves that this industry really does have a future,” Oberman said.

Oberman said that he hopes this summer academy will evolve into a youth aviation club during the regular school year, where teens can come one Saturday each month.

This summer course costs $249 per student and an additional $99 for extra flight lessons. 

For more information or to register, call Sarah Oberman at 987-1301, ext. 126, or e-mail her at Parents may also visit