The Donald A. Burns Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to supporting nonprofits that focus on a wide range of community-oriented causes. Recently, the Foundation awarded a grant to Oxbridge Academy, a private college preparatory school founded by American businessman Bill Koch.
The West Palm Beach, Florida-based institution used the Donald A. Burns Foundation grant to help fund its signature aviation program, an unprecedented four-semester course of study that enables students to gain the skills and the knowledge necessary for a career in the aviation and aeronautics. By completing elective coursework, participating in extra-curricular activities, attending field trips, and routinely using a state-of-the-art Redbird MCX Flight Simulator (one of only a handful in the country), students in the program develop an understanding of the expectations and responsibilities that accompany the role of a professional pilot. The initiative is led by former commercial airline pilot and UPS Pilot of the Year award recipient Deborah Donnelly-McLay.
In addition to educating students in the subject of aviation, Oxbridge Academy’s innovative program also partners with local flight training group SunQuest Aviation Services to help students earn an FAA private pilot’s license. The grant from the Donald A. Burns Foundation will specifically benefit this aspect of the program, allowing a greater number of Oxbridge students the opportunity to log the necessary flight hours and complete the requisite practical and written tests that they must pass before they can obtain their license.
The first Oxbridge student to earn his FAA private pilot’s license did so in October of 2015. The student, then-senior Andres Garcia, credited the aviation program with helping him prepare for his exams. Andres aims to eventually become a commercial pilot, and he emphasizes the importance of discipline and good decision-making both in the air and on the ground.
With the help of donations from charitable groups like the Donald A. Burns Foundation, four additional students from Oxbridge Academy are on track to earn their private pilot’s license during the 2016-2017 school year.