Jesse Soto is a senior in Sterling High School's magnet aviation program. He's now about a month away from getting his pilot's license.
"Looking up in the sky and seeing airplanes all over the place, I thought that was like something only high-income people and kids would be able to achieve. But then the Sterling Aviation Magnet Program really opened up lots and lots of doors for me."
Houston Airport System Director Mario Diaz hopes more kids get that experience through a new city-sponsored program designed to get students interested in aviation and aeronautics careers. With the help of educational partners, the airport system is setting up high school aviation clubs. Diaz says students will be mentored as they work toward their educational and career goals.
"There are just an infinite number of possibilities of jobs that aviation and aerospace can afford these students. And Houston really needs to play a central role in that development."
And Mayor Annise Parker says the clubs are crucial as Houston transitions from a federally-sponsored space program to a commercial program.
"And we're going to aggressively pursue opportunities for full-time, adult jobs in aviation and aerospace in Houston. But let's make sure we also have young people who are excited about those careers."
There will be two clubs to start, one at Sterling and another at Carnegie-Vanguard. Officials hope to expand the clubs to more schools in the future.