The academy offers after-school aviation training at Edison, McLane, and Fresno High schools.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A local nonprofit is taking action to show teens in the Valley that the sky is not the limit for their dreams.
As he geared up, 17-year-old Josiah Bohanon talked about doing what he loves, which is flying.
"One of the best experiences I've probably had throughout my life," said Bohanon, the student pilot.
He recently had his first solo flight after training with the New Generation Aviation Academy.
The Edison High School senior trained in a Skyleader 400.
"You look over and see you nobody there. You take off, you have to land. Once you get in the air you're like I have to put it down by myself, there's no turnaround. You're on your own, and it feels pretty good," Bohanon said.
The academy, based at the Chandler Airport in Southwest Fresno, provides aviation training to students of color or from low-income neighborhoods.
Through a contract with Fresno Unified, the academy offers after-school aviation training at Edison, McLane, and Fresno High Schools.
The flying program helps students become certified private pilots after graduation by preparing them for a career in aviation at a time when there's a critical shortage of trained professional pilots.
Bohanon said he wants to become a Certified Flight Instructor and teach other students.
That is something he's already doing in the afterschool program with his peers.
He says it's all worth the time commitment.
"Every day I'm either studying or I'm over here at chandler, or I'm doing the ground school or I'm flying the airplane," Bohanon said. "You got to be intentional about everything that you want to do and achieve."
As the propeller spins, Bohanon's family and mentors watch from the wings as he takes off.
New Vision Aviation CEO Joseph Oldham is the one who inspired him to take to the skies.
"You know, we sweat. But when they come down and you ask them were they nervous, and they are like no, no I wasn't nervous, I knew exactly what I was supposed to do, ok great now we have done what we're supposed to do," Oldham said.
One of his instructors, Joe Nielsen, said he felt a sense of pride seeing him up on there on his own.
"Seeing the way how he grows through the process - being able to fly a plane by himself at that age that's an amazing accomplishment and it feel great to be a part of it," Neilsen said.
As his mother, Pamela Taylor, watched Bohanon in the sky, she said she was grateful for her son's mentors.
She said he grew up with many challenges, but she's happy he is now soaring.
"For him to want to help other people, especially kids who are struggling, for them to have that opportunity and for him to know and for other kids to know that if they put their mind to it they can do anything - for that I'm truly grateful," she said.
This Fall, the CEO plans to expand the program to more schools within Fresno County.
Last year, the academy received $180,000 dollars from the Wood Next Fund to help with much-needed resources.
If you are interested in learning more about the program, click here.