Local veterans using post-911 GI Bill benefits

FSCJ aviation program booming at Cecil Airport

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Military members have been flooding Florida State College at Jacksonville's rapidly growing aviation school at Cecil Airport since the closing of Florida's shuttle program last year.

David Robinson served 20 years as a hospital corpsman in the military and when he got out, he went to school.  

"Go to school and learn to fly," Robinson said. "I love it and the GI bill, it really takes care of it, so I can do my dream."  

Robinson is one of a handful of students in the program at FSCJ following a dream of soaring through the air. But instead of working on or around a military jet, like they're used to, the new program is teaching them to fly on their own. 

"What I'd like to do is get into a life-flight air ambulance," Robinson said. "That's my ultimate goal. I want to fly patients around down in the Caribbean."  

Program manager Sam Fischer said they are seeing a lot of veterans taking advantage of the classes using the GI Bill, which provides educational benefits for veterans.

"Maybe they're done with aviation in the military and now they want to sit in the front seat," Fischer said.  

Moi Huang said he will make a career out of his new set of skills.

"Today, I did my check ride, for certified flight instructor. That way I can become flight instructor for this flight school," Huang said.

Haung is fast-tracking through the school that opened in September. Gene Milowicki oversees the school and he can relate; he is making his own career in training since serving in the Navy. 

"So for the first time in 10 years, we now have students who are training here with us, in the simulators and the ground school, can walk right out to the flight line and get in the airplane and do some flight training," Milowicki said.  

The training takes a couple of years to complete. The director of the school said they started in September with a new flight training partner and already have 55 students, many of them veterans, using their post-911 G.I. Bill benefits.

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