NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico high school students are not only getting their diploma, but some even learning how to fly a plane. The program, through Southwest Aeronautics Mathematics and Science (SAMS) Academy, gives students and opportunity to earn their pilot’s license.

There are nearly 100 students at the academy with a focus on aviation. While it’s an amazing opportunity, students have a lot to juggle. “Cross country hours, they need night flights, they need solo flights, they have to learn how to how to do over a dozen FAA maneuvers,” Aeronautics Director Lauren Chavez said.

Once they are done with the program, each student is an FAA certified pilot. “It’s exactly why I’m here, I’ve never heard of anything like it,” student in the program Valente Garcia said. The program has become so successful they say they are looking to add sixth graders to the program. Per FAA rules, students need to be 16-years-old before they can fly solo.