LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Academy at Shawnee is the only school in Kentucky to have an FAA-approved RedBird Flight Simulator on their campus.

What You Need To Know

  • The Academy at Shawnee received an FAA-approved RedBird Flight Simulator

  • Shawnee became the only Kentucky school to have this type of simulator

  • Students can earn private pilot hours by using the simulator

For Shawnee senior Luke Lush, it’s taking his learning to brand new heights.

“My dream job, long run, I want to fly commercial,” Lush said. “So Southwest, I would even love to fly for UPS. Anything that has me in the pilot seat and not sitting behind a desk, if that makes sense, and I’ll be happy.”

Since the age of 6, Lush has had one dream: to be in the pilot’s seat.

“When I was at JCTMS (Jefferson County Traditional Middle School) I was told by a counselor about the Shawnee Aviation Program, so I was like, ‘Hey. I’m gonna check it out’ and I thought this was the best way to get there,” Lush said.

Shawnee student trying out the new RedBird Flight Simulator, the newest addition to the aviation program. (Spectrum News 1/Erin Wilson)

Thanks to the aviation program Shawnee offers, Lush has taken his passion to new heights, especially with the addition of their new flight simulator.

“This $105,000 investment is another example of our commitment to bringing state of art programs and equipment to the schools and particularly schools in the west Louisville area,” said Robert Moore, JCPS chief of schools.

The FAA-approved RedBird Simulator offers students real-world, “fly the plane” experience.

“It just seems so unreal because this is such a big thing and it’s just crazy to think we can use this every day,” Lush said. 

Students can even earn flight hours for their private pilot and instrument rating certifications.

“The other day, we had a flight scheduled, and the winds went crazy, so we had to cancel,” Lush said. “So with this we can make it so there’s not really strong winds if we need to and get flight time without having to actually leave.”

For Lush, it’s everything he ever hoped. Not for himself, but for the next generation of pilots to come like his younger brother.

“This is the flight simulator we’re getting,” Lush said. “He was like, ‘Does it move?’ I was like, yes, and he was like, ‘Oh man, I really want to go to Shawnee now.’ I was like, ‘Hey there’s a really good aviation program.’”

The students enrolled in the aviation program at Shawnee receive a private pilot’s certificate upon graduation.