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West Valley City Journal

To encourage future aviators, helicopters visit Granger High’s football field

May 02, 2022 09:18PM ● By Liz Craker

By Liz Craker |

In late March, Granger High School was the first fly-in location of an annual program in which high schools across the state will trade off hosting. Industry pilots and aircraft mechanics are on site during the events to provide their expertise and passion for aviation.

The Utah Rotor Pathway program (URPP) is the first program in the U.S. that works to bring together industry leaders, universities, and high schools to provide helicopter pilot and maintenance training at Utah high schools. The program began in fall 2019 with just two high schools, and now there are 32 participating high schools. The program reaches Beaver, Davis, Iron, Kane, Morgan, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, Summit, Utah, Washington, Wayne, and Weber counties.

URPP has developed an education program to bring together industry professionals, universities, and high schools to provide helicopter pilot and maintenance training. During the event at Granger High School, they flew in helicopters from emergency services, firefighting agencies, training facilities, and other organizations to provide high school students and the general community an opportunity to get an in-depth look at the equipment.

Mike Matson, Granite Technical Institute aviation teacher, instructs the aviation classes at the institute, along with a flight simulator instructor. Students in the program can take drone, air transportation, and aviation survey classes through the aviation program. All eight Granite high schools feed into the institute.

Matson said the helicopters all flew in and landed at the football field, and this event made aviation tangible, real, and accessible as possible to students. “Just being in a classroom learning about aviation feels distant. During events like this you can just see the students’ eyes light up,” he said.

There are several career paths you can take as a helicopter pilot such as life flights to hospitals, first responder, industrial helicopter logging, and commercial, Matson explained. “As a flight instructor, I am happy to be involved with anything aviation and getting students involved in these careers,” he added.

Students attending the event had the opportunity to speak with pilots from different companies and learn how to get into the industry. “Students start to realize that an aviation career is approachable, and pilots are just like them. It makes it feel like an aviation career is real and possible for them if they just go after it and do it,” Matson said.

During the event students also had the opportunity to view the helicopters up close. “For them it is exciting to see the equipment up close and personal,” Matson said. “One of the most powerful things we can to is to get students flying in an aircraft. Getting in the aircraft is the next best thing.”

With five classroom flight simulators, Matson can get students as close to flying as possible. He explained that flight students can get a license as early as age 17. “Some students end up being absolutely fantastic pilots because of the advantage of this program,” he said.

“This program gives students a massive advantage if they seek to go onto pilot careers.” Matson said. “Our GTI students go on to be the best pilots and instructors in future programs, and we are really proud that we are able to provide that experience.”