McKINNEY – Three McKinney North High School students got a bird’s eye view of the North Homecoming pre-game festivities at Ron Poe Stadium Friday night when they took part in a McKinney ISD Aviation flyover.

The flyover, which is becoming something of a Homecoming tradition, marks the fourth time in two years that McKinney ISD Aviation students have soared over the crowd before a game. (Two other planned flyovers were cancelled due to inclement weather conditions.)

About 30 minutes before the coin toss at Ron Poe Stadium, aviation students Kayla Gilbreath, C.J. Welch and Tyler Beard joined professional flight instructors aboard three single engine U.S. Sport airplanes that took off from Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney. As the planes swung in low over the stadium in a triangle formation, they were greeted by a roar of approval from the McKinney North faithful (photo above).

The McKinney ISD Aviation program is a Career & Technical Education (CTE) course of study that has quickly grown from about 40 students in 2011 to more than 200 in 2013 and features an FAA approved flight training simulator on which students can log flight hours.

“We are offering on of the most unique programs in the nation and hope to continue growing this program,” said Tamy Smalskas, McKinney ISD Director of Special Projects and CTE. “We have a state of the art aviation program for high school students.”

The City of McKinney’s recent purchase of the Collin County Regional Airport has created the potential for increased partnership between the city, the airport and the McKinney ISD Aviation program which is sure to evoke yet more interest from students.

McKinney Online

A host of local, state and school officials were on hand to meet the trio of aviation students and see them off: (pictured above, from left) MISD Superintendent Dr. J.D. Kennedy, MISD Board of Trustees member Lynn Sperry, Board Vice-President Amy Dankel, Board member Maria McKinzie, C.J. Welch, Tyler Beard, Kayla Gilbreath, local businessman Fritz Mowery, State Representative Van Taylor, State Representative Scott Sanford, McKinney Mayor Pro Tem Travis Ussery, City Council member Randy Pogue and MISD Director of Special Projects and CTE Dr. Tamy Smalskas.

McKinney Online
McKinney Online

C.J. Welch (above left), a sophomore at North, dreams of one day becoming a commercial airline pilot. His passion for that career path led Welch and his family to move to McKinney so that he can participate in the McKinney ISD Aviation program.

Kayla Gilbreath (above right), a freshman at North, has her sights set on a flying career as well. If her journey works out as she hopes, she will earn her wings at the Naval Academy.

McKinney Online

North senior Tyler Beard (pictured at left) is leaning more toward a future in the hands-on side of aviation – aviation mechanics – but is open to the idea of becoming a pilot.

For more information on the McKinney ISD Aviation program, visit the CTE webpage and read our recent feature article in Texas Lone Star Magazine.

For more photos, click here.

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or


About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,000 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, one alternative school and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at