Flight Students

In 2020, SJVA received a grant from American Airlines that provided students with the opportunity to take their first flight and receive an additional 5 to 10 hours of flight training. This has been a great success as it has helped many students identify and confirm their passion for flight and set them on a path to further explore and pursue careers in aviation. Below you will be introduced to past and present SJVA flight students who have benefited and learned about their aviation goals and endeavors. As of today, 44 SJVA students have taken an introductory flight through a local flight school or EAA Young Eagles flight program. In addition, 6 SJVA staff members have taken flight through EAA Eagles flight program. If you would like to help SJVA introduce more students to the wonders of flight and find their career, you can donate using the link below or contact the Director of Aviation at panady@sjacademy.org

Class of 2022

Haley Rodriguez

Aviation Accomplishments Private Pilot Certificate – 12/17/2021 FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Exam – 11/24/2021 Solo Flight – 07/03/2021

Hello, my name is Haley Rodriguez and I am currently attending SJVA in the 12th grade. My love for aviation all started during my freshman year when I took SJVA’s Introduction to Aviation. The thing is, I didn’t even want to be in aviation at first! I chose art as the elective I wanted, and ended up in aviation. When I told my parents that I wanted to switch out, my dad convinced me otherwise. That led me to where I am now. I have taken Introduction to Aviation, Aviation 1 – Ground, and Aviation 2 – Flight. I’ve always dreamt of flying through the sky, but never saw being a pilot as a career choice. SJVA’s Aviation Academy has changed my mindset. I’m currently flying with an instructor at French Valley Airport about once a week.

My goal is to obtain my Private Pilot certificate before I graduate high school. After high school, I plan on attending California Aeronautical University and earning all of my additional certificates and ratings while having a job on campus to support myself. After my three years of college (CAU graduates students in 3 years), I plan on working at a regional airline before moving on to one of the major airlines.


Jayden Vanegas

Aviation Accomplishments: Solo Flight – 03/28/2021

I am Jayden Vanegas and I have been attending SJVA since 6th grade. I’m an International BaccalaureateDiploma Candidate at SJVA. In addition, I’m taking classes at MSJC through their dual enrollment program. I am a very active student participating in varsity sports and I am a brown belt in Karate. During my freshman year of high school, I took Introduction to Aviation as an elective course, not thinking too much of it. As a result of that introductory course, it turned out that I had a much bigger interest in aviation than I had originally thought.  The following year I took Aviation 1 – Ground, which is a much more rigorous course that really helped me understand the fundamentals of flight and how airplanes operate. During the first semester of Aviation 1, I had the opportunity to apply for a flight program made possible through a grant from  American Airlines. This provided me an opportunity to start flying and it has paved the path for me to start my career in aviation. Currently, I am taking Aviation 2 – Flight which is further preparing me to take the FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Exam and help develop my knowledge and skills to earn my Private Pilot’s Certificate. I am actively looking for scholarships, and finding ways to continue my flight lessons. My number one goal as of right now is to earn my Private Pilot Certificate before I graduate high school. Achieving this goal will help lead to my next one, continuing my training at the American Airline Cadet Academy.

Ricardo Acosta

Aviation Accomplishments Solo Flight – 04/24/2021

My name is Ricardo and I’m attending SJVA as a senior. My introduction to aviation started when I first saw an remote control airplane and it fascinated me. Some years later, I joined San Jacinto Valley Academy’s Aviation Club in middle school where I was exposed to more aviation than I thought possible. While passionate about aviation, but unsure if I’d be interested in actually flying, Mr. Anady was kind enough to give students from the club an introductory flight and from that day forward I was hooked.My goal and focus has now switched from small RC airplanes to flying the real deal.  Through the grant SJVA received, I have been able to start taking flight lessons and have taken SJVA’s Introduction to Aviation, Aviation 1 – Ground, and Aviation 2 – Flight courses. I still enjoy flying remote control aircraft, therefore, I’d like to also earn my Remote Pilot Certificate and possibly make money from it to help pay for flight lessons. My goal for the next two years is to pass the Private Pilot Knowledge exam and gain the majority of my flight hours to earn my Private Pilot Certificate. 

Mahalia Phillips

Greetings fellow human! I’m Mahalia. I am currently a Senior at San Jacinto Valley Academy and am a International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme  and Aviation student. I happen to also be in SJVA’s Songwriting Program which started this year. I wanted to stay in touch with my inner musician which is very important to me. Don’t get wrong aviation is music to my ears, but they aren’t the same thing. With my decision to focus on pursuing my career, I opted out of band for aviation. I don’t believe younger me would have imagined that I’d become a pilot because of how connected I was with music; but if I had been exposed to aviation earlier,  no doubt about it, I think would have been very excited!

I am taking flight lessons with an instructor once a week at French Valley Airport. All of this was made possible through SJVA’s Aviation Academy and the grant they received from American Airlines. With the help I have received, I hope to have my Private Pilot certificate by the end of my senior year. After high school I plan on attending universities like Embry-Riddle or Academies like the Air Force Academy. My career goals are are to become an astronaut and commander.


Orlando Acevedo

My name is Orlando Acevedo and I am currently a senior at SJVA. My love for Aviation started in 6th grade when I joined San Jacinto Valley Academy’s Aviation Club. The club was led by Phil Anady and Tom Evans at the time and had given me my first taste of aviation. From there, we had mostly done small projects and simulators until we had the opportunity to go on a field trip to a nearby airport. On May 21st, 2016 at the age of 12, I took my very first flight and haven’t stopped since!  After my first introductory flight, I knew this was going to be something I wanted in my life. So, about once or twice a month, I would take a flight lesson and  became a full student pilot.  Currently, I am flying at Executive Flight Institute and have over 30 hours of flight time. I have been lucky enough to fly out of Hemet Ryan airport, French Valley airport, Perris Valley airport and March Air Force Reserve Base. I am a member of the Aviation Explorer Post 7500, I wash planes on the weekends at French Valley Airport to help fund my flights, and my goal it to obtain my Private Pilot certificate before I finish high school.  I would like to attend California Aeronautical University after I graduate high school. I was introduced to CAU in SJVA’s Introduction to Aviation class, when a person from CAU came and presented to our class. My goal is to attend CAU with my Private Pilot already obtained. My plan is to graduate from there in 3 years and then become a flight instructor at that school to gain flight hours and obtain the Airline Transport Pilot Certificate and work for an airline and live my life as a successful pilot.  The passion I have developed for aviation would have never been if tt weren’t for Phil Anady,  Tom Evans, and Jason Espinosa as they continued to push me towards my goals and inspire me to become the person I am today. These 3 men, along with the support from my parents, my Tata Orlando who passed away this year, and my Nana Virginia who encourage me to accomplish my goals and become what I’ve dreamt doing since the start of it all,  a great pilot and a successful person in life!  When people ask me how it feels to fly I always tell them the same thing, “It is as beautiful as it is scary!”

Jesus Alcarez 

Hello, My name is Jesus Alcaraz, my aviation journey began during my freshman year of high school. I was looking for an elective to take and not a single course caught my eye, except for Introduction to Aviation. The class was fun and exciting, we were doing various projects that would end up building the foundation of my aviation journey. I decided to continue my aviation studies and took Aviation 1 – Ground my sophomore year of high school. It was during this time period that I took a discovery flight. After taking this flight, I knew very quickly that this is something that I would want to pursue. I now have 10+ hours of flight time of instruction received and working on more.  I have taken a part-time job in order to fund my flights and earn my Private Pilot certificate. This is all thanks to SJVA’s Aviation program and the opportunities they have provided me.

Jaiden Robinson

My name is Jaiden Robinson, I have been a part of San Jacinto Valley Academy’s Aviation Academy for three year – Introduction to Aviation, Aviation 1 – Ground, and Aviation 2 – Flight.  As a result of this program, it has allowed me to discover a deep-seated passion to fly. I originally started flying racing drones after school with Mr. Anady and other students and shortly after that I began to learn how to fly other quadcopters for aerial photography and mapping with Mr. Espinosa. Through the opportunity provided by SJVA and the grant from American Airlines, I have had the privilege to experience the wonderment of manned flight and nothing compares to that experience. As a result of the initial flight instruction provided by this grant, I have a goal to earn my Private Pilot certificate within the next two years. I have yet to decide which career in aviation is right for me, but no matter which career I go into, I know that my passion for aviation will never go away.

Andrew Kessler

Hello, my name is Andrew Kesler, I am a 12th grade student at San Jacinto Valley Academy. In my freshman year of high school, I had my first aviation class, Introduction to Aviation. Introduction to Aviation provided me with insight as to what the aviation field has to offer and more importantly what the requirement are to become a pilot. I thought that flying airplanes would be really interesting and something I could pursue down the road and obtain my Private Pilot certificate as well. In my sophomore year of high school, I took Aviation 1 – Ground and also joined the SJVA’s Aviation Club, through these opportunities I was able to the use flight simulators to develop a better understanding of what it is like to fly. The more I flew on the flight simulators, I became more eager to fly a real airplane. Currently, as a Junior in high school, I started to take flight lessons at French Valley Airport through the opportunity provided by SJVA and grant from American Airlines. As a result of taking these initial flight lessons, I have become even more passionate about earning my Private Pilot certificate.
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