MANDEVILLE, La. (WGNO) — On August 5, a student from Mandeville High School completed an intensive eight-week aviation program. La’Donte Buckhanan started the U.S. Navy Summer Flight Academy aviation program at Delaware State University in Dover in June. During his time in Dover, Buckhanan passed the FAA written exam, completed 36.5 flight hours, along with multiple solo flights, and earned himself a FAA Private Pilot’s License and five college credits.

The U.S. Navy Summer Flight Academy selected twenty 11th and 12th graders from around the United States to join the program, and Buckhanan was one of the lucky students who was picked. The program was established in 2021 to increase diversity in naval aviation. It was a part of a STEM initiative that was selected for funding by the Naval STEM Coordination Office.

The cost of the program is approximately $24,000 per student but was offered at zero cost to the group of high school teenagers who participated.

“The goal of the scholarship program is to expose exceptional minority students to a career path that currently lacks diversity,” said Commander Chris, a Navy fighter pilot, instructor, and former Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at CNAF. “La’Donte Buckhanan has what it takes to be a leader in the field of aviation, and the Navy is honored to have played a part in his personal and professional journey.”