New aviation program set to take Greeneville students to new heights

Local

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Greeneville has just become one of 11 communities in the entire country and the first in the state to have an aviation program called Tango Flight.

Tango Flight is expected to take students to new heights, literally.

Starting this fall, students at Greene Technology Center will learn the ins and outs of aviation, eventually finding themselves flying drones or on the runway as a private pilot.

“This opens up a whole new career path by just the introduction and just being able to participate in this program,” Greene County Partnership CEO Jeff Taylor said.

The program will teach students college-level aviation curriculum.

“What’s really important is what the kids learn,” said Dan Weyant, Tango Flight founder and executive director. “The fact that we get community involvement in the forms of folks like Jeff, with the Chamber and we’ll get a lot of local people — retirees, people still working that come out and work with the kids on a day-to-day basis.”

Weyant said the program is a hands-on approach to inspire students to take on aviation careers as private pilots, enter an aerospace program in college, fly commercial drones, or work as aircraft maintenance, after completing the 3-part class.

Greene Technology Center aviation instructor Josh Elkins will be teaching the course.

“General knowledge of hardware, fabrication, aircraft structure and design, here in the classroom with me and, then we will use the lab behind me to actually start working with different materials,” Elkins said.

Elkins says through the program, students will work on a side project throughout the year focused on building a two-seat plane.

“Combine A&P mentors with students and together, they will build a flyable aircraft. They will build 90% of it here in the classroom,” Elkins said.

Once the plane is completed and certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, they will have the opportunity to take a flight in the plane as a passenger, with a certified instructor at Greeneville Municipal Airport.

“Aviation is one of the growth economies as identified by the state of Tennessee. We have the second-longest non-commercial runway in the state of Tennessee. We do have a long aviation history here in Greene County, but there are still many people that don’t fly or not exposed to flying in aviation,” Taylor said.

The Tango Flight program costs the school district about $12,000 annually.

So far, 14 students have registered and enrollment is expected to increase.

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