Unlocking the Skies: Aviation Adventures in Assets High School Summer School Class

Unlocking the Skies: Aviation Adventures in Assets High School Summer School Class

Our High School students soared to new heights in the Summer School Aviation Class. Some students wanted to learn something new this summer, while others hoped to become pilots.
Retired Air Force Col. Vic Bonfiglio taught the class. He emphasized the importance of a structured and realistic academic approach to aviation. He believed that motivated students taking ownership of their training process were the key to enjoying their learning experience, finding success in their careers, and ensuring their safety in the field.

Bonfiglio said, "The essence of education lies in connecting what you learn in academics to the real world, as no one remains in school forever."
The students had firsthand experiences in the aviation industry through three insightful field trips. They had the opportunity to visit the Air Traffic Control Tower at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, explore the Pacific Flight Academy School on Lagoon Drive, and even get close to a Hawaii Air National Guard aircraft on Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam.

"I liked Col. B's personal stories," said Leilei '25. "We learned a lot about different situations. I liked the field trips because we heard from people working in aviation, the Navy, and the Air Force."
Bonfiglio highlighted the importance of the field trip experiences.
"Most people only get a tiny glimpse of aviation from a Hollywood perspective," Bonfiglio said. "While Tom Cruise is a great entertainer and motivator, he doesn't present a compelling and realistic vision of the realities of aviation."
The Summer School Aviation Class was an inspiring and enriching experience for the students, empowering them to pursue their aviation dreams with a grounded understanding of the industry. With newfound knowledge and aspirations, these young learners are ready to take flight toward a bright future.
"The essence of education is relating what you learn in academics to the real world, said Bonfiglio. "No one stays in school forever."
Students who took his summer class before the 2023 session include Cole '23 and Perez-Masa '24. Both Cole '23 and Sydney '23 did solo flights with Bonfiglio.
Even though the students are still in high school, there are opportunities for them to fly solo if approved.   


  • At age 14, a student pilot can solo a glider under the supervision and guidance of a qualified flight instructor.
  • At age 15, a student pilot can qualify for an FAA Glider Pilot Certificate. To obtain this certification, the aspiring pilot must pass the FAA Written Exam, Oral Exam, and Practical Flight Exam (commonly called a "check ride"). These assessments evaluate the student's knowledge, skills, and ability to operate a glider safely.
  • At 16, flight students can take to the skies in a powered airplane, once again, with their flight instructor's endorsement. 
  • At 17, they become eligible to qualify for the FAA Private Pilot Certificate. This milestone requires successfully passing the FAA Written Exam and the Oral Exam.
  • At 18, a pilot can qualify as a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) if they pass the FAA Written Exam, Oral Exam, and check ride. The CFI rating allows pilots to share their knowledge and skills with others, guiding and mentoring aspiring aviators.
  • At 23, the FAA Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) rating is the final and highest achievement. This rating indicates that the pilot is ready for a professional aviation career, enabling them to serve as an airline's captain or first officer. The ATP rating demands significant flight experience and proficiency in various maneuvers.

Bonfiglio was named The Federal Aviation Administration 2016 and 2017 Certified Flight Instructor of the Year for the State of Hawaii. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and served in the Air Force for 30 years. When he is not busy teaching students interested in aviation, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, doing triathlons, swimming, diving, and playing the accordion.



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