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Posted July 23, 2003 

Mount Pleasant Fly-in:
Opportunities for Top Flight Students
Top Flight Academy
By Courtney Johnson, Owner
Mt. Pleasant, Utah

[Courtney Johnson, an educator, pilot, and owner of Top Flight Academy, never considered using anything illicit because she never wanted to jeopardize the privilege she had of flying airplanes. After working with at-risk students for over a decade with her husband Kent, they decided to combine their love of aviation and youth into an emotional growth school. Hence Top Flight Academy was established. More information can be found on our website or by contacting Jeff Hintze, C.P.C.I., Executive Director.]

For two days, students at Top Flight Academy, a specialized state licensed, structured treatment program, cleaned the grounds at Mt. Pleasant Airport in preparation for the local fly-in. During the fly-in, these students escorted incoming aircraft to their tie-down positions, then later, were able to mingle with aviation enthusiasts and pilots, to discuss their love of aviation.

The students have enrolled at Top Flight Academy to learn and practice life-changing skills, and also to be immersed in the study of aviation. Best of all, Top Flight students are working toward their pilots license, which builds self confidence, a strong sense of self esteem and develops skills necessary to succeed in life.

Top Flight Academy, located south of Salt Lake City, Utah in the small rural town of Mount Pleasant, has an airport that is ideal for flight training. Several aircraft were in this local fly-in show including a replica of the Wright Brother’s historic aircraft, which appears in the photo. Skydivers landed at the airport after jumping out of a Cessna 182 at 8000 feet, which added to the excitement.

The students who had the opportunity to participate in the fly-in not only are earning the opportunity to learn how to fly an airplane; they are also acquiring the skills necessary to turn their lives around. Top Flights’ highly trained professional clinical staff, who are certified in Positive Peer Culture, also share a passion for flight. They work within the environment created at this emotional growth school to establish the conditions that support their students’ desire to fly. At the same time, the staff motivates the students to acquire the critical thinking skills necessary to solve emotional, social and cognitive problems. This helps create in the students the desire to change their previous behavior.

The same skills that need to be internalized during flight training are transferred to everyday living by using the Positive Peer Culture as a framework, which helps students begin to see things more critically. The peer interaction helps them to see how their decisions have natural consequence that must be considered from every angle. They begin to realize that exercising good judgment, as is required to pilot an aircraft, will affect their own lives and the lives of others in positive ways.

Critical thinking and good judgment are the cornerstones of aviation safety. While in the air, pilots are constantly thinking and re-thinking the simultaneous processes of piloting, navigating, and safety. There are never too many precautionary measures to be taken. Every move and decision a pilot makes must be critically analyzed in order to be safe. While on the ground, pilots must also meticulously prepare for the decisions they will need to make once they are airborne. The pre-flight planning includes filing flight plans, plotting courses, calculating fuel, and considering weather, wind, and FAA restrictions. Every decision a pilot makes has natural consequences that must be considered seriously, and as much information as possible needs to be gathered in advance in order to assure the best decisions.

It is a highly regarded skill to be able to clearly analyze a situation and make appropriate decisions that involve exercising good judgment. A willingness to change one’s point of view as a result of examination and re-examination helps one to be open to a broader range of experience, without being limited by bias. This enables a person to more clearly discover the truth of a situation. Teaching students to think critically and apply sound judgment in their lives is a difficult task. Aviation experience enables students to increase their opportunity to practice these skills, and as they accumulate practice, they become more skilled in applying critical thinking in their everyday lives.

Correlating flight training with Positive Peer Culture gives Top Flight Academy a unique opportunity to help students help themselves. Positive Peer Culture motivates students to create internal change that leads to long-term success, in contrast to the kind of short-term compliance that is done merely to avoid punishment. In addition, students leave Top Flight Academy with a higher level of self-esteem, self-confidence and a possible aviation career.

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