July 22, 20100
Before 14-year-old Miyah Collier got a chance to sit in the pilot's seat and fly above Jacksonville, she was on the ground alongside eight Cirrus airplanes, waiting with a group of jittery campers and their parents, many of whom have never set foot on a plane.
"I'm scared and I'm nervous," said Shontae Johnson, who was flying a plane for the first time.
"I'm kind of excited because that's my biggest fear, and now my kids are doing things I've never experienced," said Tonia Bell, Shontae's mom.
The campers and their parents gathered Friday as part of the Aviation Career Education Academy Program, in which teens learn to fly after a weeklong camp.
The camp is run by volunteers, and students as young as 13 must pay just $20.
Campers get a chance to see the Jacksonville Skyline from high up.
The national program is operated locally by a pilot from Charlotte, along with help from the Duval County School District, Jacksonville University, Florida State College at Jacksonville and Jacksonville Aviation Authority.
Many of the campers are students at Raines, Ribault and Andrew Jackson high schools. In addition to learning how to fly, they learn how to apply for jobs.
"Many of these kids have gotten to their junior and senior year of high school, have never actually filled out an application or wrote out a resume," said William "CJ" Charlton, a camp organizer and pilot.
The campers and their parents got an amazing bird's-eye view of the city of Jacksonville, a memorable experience for the teens who say the program has changed their lives.
"For me, it's a great experience to get me ready for college and get ready for my career --going into the Marine Corps as a pilot," said Willie McCullah, a junior at Ribault.
Charlton said he's working on establishing a permanent camp at Ribault High School. For more information about the camps, go to the Charlton Camp for Aviation, Science & Technology Training's website.