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Home / Video Blogs / Great American Teach-in Day at Azalea Middle School

Azalea Middle School

7855 22nd Ave N

St. Petersburg, FL 33710

(727) 893-2606

The Great American Teach-in Day

Airlines are struggling to keep up with the demand for pilots, as veteran staff members have retired early and military recruitment has decreased. According to some estimates, the industry will have a deficit of 8,000 pilots by 2025, which is about 11% of the workforce.
This severe pilot shortage threatens most U.S.-based airlines, yet a local middle school might have found the solution. Azalea Middle School in St. Petersburg, Florida, hosts a program created to engage students and inspire them to pursue an aviation-focused career path.
Though they cannot legally drive yet, these students are being given a chance to earn a certification in drone flight and safety from Willis Reese, an aviation teacher, and retired pilot.
"It started out as an after-school program, and when everybody saw how well it was going and how much interest there was with the students here on campus, it blew up. And it blew up so big that people took notice. The district took notice, and they decided to send some money my way to help us buy drones and more equipment," said Reese.
Reese wanted to bring helicopter experience to his students, he reached out to a few local government agencies with helicopters, but they were not available for a demonstration. That is when he stumbled across Steven Flies on Facebook, and he asked if I would be interested in speaking with his students.
I was thrilled to visit these wonderful kids as part of The Great American Teach-in Day. Nikki Gallagher and I flew a  Robinson R44 Raven-II helicopter from Albert Whitted Airport (KSPG) for the brief 5-minute flight to Azalea Middle.
Landing in the field as the students watched our arrival. We spent the morning discussing aviation.

Nikki is a airline pilot and a chairperson for the Women in Aviation Tampa Bay Chapter, a nonprofit that helps women explore and advance their careers in aviation and aerospace.



Capt Willis W. Reese III, M.S. Ed.
Civil Air Patrol Squadron Commander
Azalea Middle School Cadet Squadron
Azalea Middle School / Pinellas County, FL.
7855 22nd Avenue North
St. Petersburg, FL. 33710
0) 727.893.2606 x1313

Women in Aviation Tampa Bay Chapter
3501 Bessie Coleman Blvd
Unit #22794
Tampa, FL 33622-2794
[email protected]
























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Steven loves to fly helicopters around the country and share his unique journeys with you. He recently completed a 3,000-mile flight around the USA.

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