Jacob Bowser says it sounds a little cliche but it’s true: When you’re flying and you look down on Earth, it makes your problems seem small.
“I like the clarity it provides, just being high up and being able to think about everything.” Bowser, 18, is well prepared to take to the skies and launch his aviation studies at Western Michigan University in the fall. For the past two years he’s been studying aviation technology through Kalamazoo RESA’s Education for Employment.
Bowser learned about EFE, which is now called Career & Technical Education, through a high school counselor at the end of his freshman year. Aviation technology wasn’t open to sophomores, so he enrolled in robotics and electronics, which was housed at Kalamazoo Central.
“I remember going in feeling like I had to have some background knowledge to prepare for aviation,” he said. “They taught me everything and really helped me along the process. We did all sorts of things in that class. We built submarines and simple circuits. At one point, we built remote control cars. It’s a pretty fun class and as far as classes go it was free-ranging. The instructor I had let you think for yourself.”
By his sophomore year, he was ready to make the jump to the aviation program.
“There are all different aspects of aviation that you can study from repairing them to managing them to flying them, but for a long time I knew I wanted to fly airplanes,” Bowser said.
The aviation technology class is housed at the Air Zoo in a classroom that overlooks the museum’s restoration area and its background noise of rivet guns and sanders. Students study subjects such as weather patterns, physics, aircraft, charting courses, setting weight limits, and runway markings. There were hands-on lessons as well, such as rivet projects and making tool boxes.
“I’ve already completed ground school for my private pilot’s license,” Bowser said. “That course really, really helped me. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without it.”
Bowser, the son of Julie and William Bowser, graduated from Loy Norrix High School in June. While at Norrix, he threw shotput and discus for the track team for four years. He played football for three years, before giving it up in his senior year to take flight lessons.
When he begins his studies at WMU, he will already have four credit hours based on online classes and classes he took through Kellogg Community College. Those classes and the KRESA instruction that helped him complete ground school have been invaluable.
“I think EFE is right for all manner of people — not just those into STEM,” he said. “The teachers are there to help you, actually help you. They’re not going to throw you in the water and expect you to know how to swim. They’ll actually teach you.”