The Florida Air Museum, located on the grounds of the Lakeland Linder Airport and instrumental in the hosting of the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In each year, broke ground April 15 for a new public high school with an aviation theme, to be built where the Educational Forums are currently held during the fly-in.
With a single donor grant of $7.5 million from Naples, Florida-based philanthropist James Ray, a pilot with 70 years of flight experience, the new 58,000-square-foot facility will house up to 500 high school students when it is completed in 2011. The school will be called the Central Florida Aerospace Academy. The Aviation Education Foundation has also donated $500,000 toward the purchase of furniture, fixtures and equipment for the school.
Ray, a WW-II Flying Fortress B-17 pilot, said, "It is my belief that teaching young people the discipline required to learn the science of flight builds character and confidence. The experience of solo flight teaches them that they are independent and free-thinking individuals who are fully capable of being in control of their own lives."