01/13/2012 04:17 pm ET Updated Mar 14, 2012

Inside DPS: Just How High Can DPS Students Get?

The first thought that crossed many minds when seeing this headline probably involved students using marijuana or narcotics.

I would beg those shallow-minded individuals to think again.

The answer to this question is 5,000 feet above sea level -- while flying a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. And did I mention that students (yes, students!) are the ones doing the flying?

At Davis Aerospace Technical High School, I had the pleasure of accompanying Student Pilot Taylor Grant, a 17-year-old senior at the school, on a flight across downtown Detroit. Cliff Miller, the school's Aviation Advisor & Flight Instructor, joined us as a safety precaution.

We started the day with a flight simulation where Taylor helped me to fly an imitation air craft. Needless to say, I almost crashed. So I was eager, and a little anxious, to see how well a high school student would do with flying a 'real' plane.

Taylor was excited (and not the least bit nervous) to show off his piloting skills. And from take-off to landing, it was evident that this young man will become a very successful pilot one day soon.

'Small to a Giant'

As we flew over the Belle Isle Bridge, he pointed out how the popular "Giant Slide" looked so tiny. Viewing the breath-taking skyline of the Motor City from 5,000 feet in the air may be just what naysayers need to change their viewpoint of Detroit Public Schools.

From this moment forward, I challenge anyone to say DPS doesn't have great programs. We are literally teaching students to fly!

This type of training would typically cost $12,000-$14,000, according to Cliff Miller. Upon completion of all in-school training, students must pass a written, oral, and practical exam administered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is also offered at the school. After earning a Private Pilot license, students are ready for training as a Commercial Pilot, and next as an Airline Transportation Pilot (ATP).


As the only high school in the country to have a pilot training program and mechanic school all in-house, the Davis Aerospace Flight Training program allows students who successfully complete all flight-training requirements to achieve their Private Pilot license prior to graduation.

The program is also one of only a handful of flight programs available to public school students in the United States that has an approved FAA curriculum coupled with an in-house fleet of aircraft that are owned, operated, and serviced by its students and staff.

Last bragging point: the school's graduation rate is 96 percent.

After graduation, Taylor said he'll continue to pursue his ATP License to pilot for major airlines like Delta, and he'll utilize his training in engine repair and building planes (all acquired at Davis Aerospace Technical High School) to further his career.


STEM Programs at DPS

Davis Aerospace is one of MANY gems within the DPS STEM Education Programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). As the North American International Auto Show kicked off, we thought it would be nice to tout our own horn regarding the exciting programs that we have for students including:

• Detroit International Academy for Young Women (the only all-girls' K-12 public school in Michigan, with an emphasis on mathematics, science, technology, and leadership development)
• Netbook computers are available for every student in grades K-12
• Hundreds of students participate in programs such as the Chess League, Academic Games™, and Robotics
• Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship has 38 STEM-field fellows from 4 universities under mentorship of DPS teachers at 14 schools
• DPS has an ongoing participation in "A World in Motion" (AWIM) for 3rd and 5th graders (an SAE competition that is sponsored by GM)
• DPS partnered with the Engineering Society of Detroit and the DPS Foundation, allowing middle school students to participate in Future City, a competition promoting engineering and design skills as students create cities of the future
• DAPCEP (Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program), which requires Science Fair participation and operates middle school-level programs in over 20 schools

Just to name a few...

To learn more about our exciting programs, visit