After charter school controversy, aviation students look to bright future | KOB 4

After charter school controversy, aviation students look to bright future

Brittany Costello
December 23, 2017 05:42 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – For 17-year-old Liam Fuqua, there's no sound quite like the soft rumble of a Cessna 172.


The high school senior is barely old enough to fly it, but Fuqua is in the pilot's seat for his very first solo flight at Double Eagle Airport.

"I can only describe it as freeing," he said. "It's like the feeling of driving car for the first time in the sky. Go so much farther, see so much…it means so much to me."

It's the culmination of a long journey for Fuqua, given the situation the charter school he attends found itself in. He's a student at the Southwest Aeronautics Mathematics and Science Academy – a name that might ring a bell.

It's one of a group of schools that was part of the southwest learning centers. Its founder, David Scott Glasrud, pleaded guilty to federal theft, fraud and other charges in October, putting the future of the schools in question.

Glasrud funneled money from the public charter schools for 15 years, which had a trickle-down effect.

"There were a lot of people that dropped, there were several years where the program was almost demolished," Fuqua said. "Since then we've actually had a lot of rocky roads with changing instructors."

For a while, the teen said, he had no idea if his hard work would pay off or if his future there was secure.

But not anymore. For Fuqua and other students, this is a story of recovery, of second chances and something else, too.  

"Within the aviation program, it's really been a story of success. In my mind, it's been a lot of learning and growing as a person and in technical skills," he said. "In flying a plane."

Now Fuqua says he's never been surer of his future. He said he owed it all to this school, and his many instructors. He's hoping to graduate with his private pilot license.

From there, he says, the possibilities are endless.


Brittany Costello

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved


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