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Mon, Feb 19, 2007

College-Prep School Drops Aviation Program

Culver Academies Trustees Cite Cost

Indiana-based Culver Academies, a private college preparatory boarding high school for young men and women, dropped the school's aviation program, although a modified flight program will be offered.

Although the decision was made during a fall 2006 meeting, said Doug Haberland, director of communications, the decision was not made public until last Thursday. The reason, he said, was to announce the decision to the schools constituencies first, using the March edition of the school's quarterly publication "Flagship."

The decision, reports the South Bend Tribune (IA) came more than a year after an August 2005 crash that killed a flight instructor and a 14-year old second-year aviation camper on an instructional flight. The accident occurred during the Aviation Specialty Camp at Culver.

Head of Schools John N. Buxton said Thursday the decision was more financial than philosophical. The school, he said, had explored insurance coverage costs and new plane costs, as well as relocating the academies' Fleet Field farther from the campus.

"We concluded that we would be unable to conduct the program at the level we would want with the (insurance) protection we would need," Buxton said.

Fleet Field has been closed to all air traffic since the crash, and the school sold its fleet of four aircraft for an undisclosed amount, according to the Tribune. Last summer, Culver Summer Schools and Camps provided computerized simulation flights and study of flight through radio-controlled airplanes, Buxton said.

The modified program will continue at the academies, Buxton added.

The academies began the aviation program in 1920, Haberland said, when float planes were seen on Lake Maxinkuckee. The program continued until 1925, then resumed with conventional aircraft in 1971.




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