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Teenage aviators reach for the sky

WHILE most teenagers are still dreaming of their first driving lesson, pupils at an Australian school can set their sights somewhat higher - by learning to fly.

Avondale high school, on the northern outskirts of Sydney, has included aeronautics in a new range of vocational subjects being added to New South Wales' secondary school curriculum.

Students as young as 15 will be among the members of the first flying class - and some are expected to win their commercial pilot's licence well before graduating from high school.

Avondale, a Seventh Day Adventist Church-owned school, is already linked to the Avondale College School of Aviation. But the aeronautics course brings a whole new meaning to the concept of high-flying students.

School principal David Faull said the new vocational courses should give them more options when they finish school - including going on to higher education. All will be recognised by universities.

Sadly, similar hands-on experience will not be available for another new course aimed at the school's most able students: cosmology.

Pupils will, however, get a chance to visit five major Australian observatories as part of their studies - comparable to a first-year university course and delivered by Charles Sturt University through its distant learning operation.

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