A Boeing 727-200 that was donated by FedEx to the Sun ‘n Fun campus in 2013 is now up and running. Named the Piedmont Aerospace Experience, the airplane has been turned into a fully functional classroom that provides a unique educational experience to students at the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, a public high school located on the Sun ’n Fun and Florida Air Museum campus at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.
If you’re attending the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo this week, you won’t be able to miss the massive airplane, which is permanently parked just west of the main show entrance, adjacent to the Central Florida Aerospace Academy.
The big jet has a fully functional environmental system and wireless capabilities to provide comfort and function for the students. The airplane features a conference room with 10 seats and a classroom with 30 Samsung tablets that interact with a smartboard, two student computers, two workshops, a teacher workstation and 11 cameras that follow the plane’s control movements to show students what happens when a pilot makes a control input.
At least two classes per day will be held in the 727 classroom, where students accompanied by teachers can sit at the controls of the aircraft, go through the actual checklist and power up the plane, while video footage of the lesson streams to other students’ tablets.
“Nowhere else in the world will students be able to receive the hands-on learning experiences that will be offered by the Piedmont Aerospace Experience. Not even in a commercial pilot ground school do you have this much interaction with a live plane,” says Robb Williams, Executive Director of Aerospace Center for Excellence.
The unique classroom setup was a community effort made possible by the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, Polk State College, Traviss Career Center, Florida Modification Specialists, Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, the City of Lakeland and the Tom Davis and Emil Buehler Foundations.