SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Idialish Fuentes De Jesus is only 17 years old, but she already knows what she wants to do when she grows up.
“I actually want to be a commercial pilot, but I also want to fly helicopters for the National Guard,” she said.
The Washington High School junior is part of an aviation class at the Sioux Falls School District’s Career and Technical Education Academy, where she was training Wednesday on one of three new flight simulators financed by a state grant.
“I was flying a plane, just doing a simulator, and I was doing my checklist,” she said. “Just running how should I land, just learning the basics of flying.”
“The three Frasca flight simulators are brand-new to us this year,” CTE instructor Laureen Mehlert said. “They are top-of-the-line. They are what you would train on if you went to do a flight training program.”
Mehlert teaches aviation at the CTE Academy, and her enthusiasm for the role is clear.
“It’s amazing,” Mehlert said. “It’s so much fun.”
Fun, she says, because of the people soaking up this information.
“Just watching the kids who have such a passion for aviation and flying, and they’re amazing,” Mehlert said.
Idialish says working on this simulator helps her connect the dots.
“It’s very helpful,” she said. “I don’t think I would actually understand the notes if I didn’t have this.”
What’s more, these simulators help ease her into the whole idea of taking flight.
“I got nervous thinking about flying, and I just always get jittery,” she said. “But once I actually started flying these flight simulators, it got me way more comfortable than I ever thought.”