News: NC at-risk youth visit Guard flight facility
Story by Sgt. Leticia Samuels
RALEIGH, N.C. – Student Targeted for Achievement through Redirection (STAR) Academy, a Harnett County alternative school for at-risk youth, toured the North Carolina National Guard’s flight facility in Morrisville, N.C., earlier this month.
Army Maj. Fredrick Keller, an NCNG supervisory instructor pilot, taught the students about the NCNG’s Army Aviation aircraft, the AH-64D Longbow Apache Helicopter, the UH-72 Lakota Light Utility Helicopter and C-26 Twin Turboprop fixed wing aircraft.
The STAR Academy is a program to keep at-risk students from dropping out of school and help those that are behind in class work catch up.
This youth program gives teens insight on the military as a career, with 20 students enlisting in the past five years.
The academy also provides additional opportunities designed specifically to assist high-risk students in developing the skills necessary for academic and social success.
Keller guided the students along the hangar floor among several Apache Helicopters there for maintenance. Keller gave a hands-on tour highlighting the Apache’s capabilities and pointed out the complex weapons systems, engine and avionics.
“This is so cool, really thinking about joining the military now,” said Ruby Arraga, a STAR student during the flight facility tour.
Students made the most of the opportunity by sitting in the Apache cockpit and posing for photos on the multimillion-dollar aircraft. They also commented on how the experience made them consider serving in the military as an option.
“They really enjoyed the follow up with the experts on how much it takes to get into the military,” replied T.J. Carver, counselor at STAR academy.
Keller explained to the students about an aviator’s career, including flight school, evaluation boards and the rigorous training pilots have to endure.
These tours are part of an ongoing community outreach at the facility. Ten instructors serve as “tour guides” to give presentations year-round to various youths ranging from 15-20 years of age. Recent tours include Cub/Boy Scouts, Turbomeca Aerospace, Leesville High School Aviation Program, and the USA baseball team.