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SANTA MONICA : New Scholarships Allow 7 Students to Fly High

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Santa Monica Airport has long been a sore spot for its neighbors--who complain of noise, pollution and plane crashes--but some residents have joined with private pilots to create a new scholarship program to teach youths how to fly.

The group collected about $6,500, which they put toward the Santa Monica Scholars Program--created for seven Santa Monica High School students, who are studying aviation. Last weekend, four of the students took their first flight with an instructor.

Participating in the program are: Paul Herrera, Maria Maciel, Osvaldo Jimenez, Fritz Krainer, Rocio Alvarez, Robert Fischer and Shoham Dadizes. The students were selected by teachers and the principal at Santa Monica High, based on their academic abilities, communication skills, interest in flying and the possibility of pursuing an aviation career.

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By the end of the program the students should be able to fly solo, although they will not yet have licenses, said Airport Commissioner Jule Lamm. But the new pilots probably will be able to earn their licenses by working for private pilots for free, in exchange for more experience at the controls.

“One student already has a job at the airport,” said Lamm, adding that chances are good the aviation scholarships will continue.

“It’s interesting--people in the area and people at the airport want to keep it going,” she said.

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