Aviation program gives EVIT alum wings to soar

Aviation program gives EVIT alum wings to soar
Posted on 05/04/2021
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When Michael Charlton enrolled in EVIT’s Aviation program, he had a passion for flight and eyes that seemed to always gaze skywards. Just a couple of years later at age 19, he was earning over $100,000 as one of the youngest certified radar controllers to ever work at the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center.

“I discovered EVIT’s aviation program through one of their visits to my high school and decided to give it a shot,” Charlton said. “Little did I know that it was going to be the best decision I ever made and lay the foundation for my aviation career.”

Today at age 26, Charlton is working as a terminal radar approach controller at P50 Phoenix TRACON at the base of the control tower at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

“I love that in my job I’m able to protect not only my loved ones, but perfect strangers who probably don’t even know I exist,” he said. “It’s one of the beautiful things about air traffic control.”

Aviation is one of over 40 career training programs for high school students and adults offered by the East Valley Institute of Technology at two central Mesa campuses. Aviation is offered exclusively at the EVIT Power Campus, 6625 S. Power Road.

Students in EVIT Aviation learn skills for working in air transportation operations, air traffic control, airframe and power-plant maintenance, professional pilot, airport management and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations. College credit is available through Chandler-Gilbert Community College, and several options are available in the second year of the program for students to begin flight training.

After finishing at EVIT and graduating from Tempe’s Corona del Sol High School, Charlton went on to Community College of Beaver County in Beaver Falls, Pa., where he earned an associate degree in applied science with a specialty in terminal air traffic control. Then he was accepted by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Academy in Oklahoma City and began training. He graduated first in his class, which gave him the right to choose his location to work – and he chose Chicago ARTCC because it was one of the busiest facilities in the country “and I wanted to climb the tallest mountain I could.”

“From graduating high school in 2013, I was training in Chicago by June of 2015. I was just 19 years old after I graduated the (FAA) academy and arrived there,” Charlton said. “By my 19th birthday, I was making over six figures in my profession as I progressed through training.”

He is now part of a team that controls all the airspace around the Phoenix area up to 21,000 feet.  He also continues to fly as a private pilot as a hobby.

Charlton said EVIT is an amazing opportunity for high school students – and the Aviation program is a no-brainer: “If you’re a teenager and are serious about a career in aviation, then the best decision you could ever make would be to choose EVIT and never look back.”

EVIT students have a 98% high school graduation rate, two out of three go on to college and approximately 94% are in jobs, college or the military within a year of completing their training. Enrollment for 2021-22 is under way. Enroll: www.evit.com/enroll


Michael’s Career Path:

  • Enrolled in EVIT’s Aviation program
  • Graduated from Tempe’s Corona High School
  • Earned associate degree with specialty in terminal air traffic control from a Pennsylvania community college
  • Graduated first in his class at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City
  • At 19, became the youngest certified radar controller to work at Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center
  • Works now as a terminal radar approach controller at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport
Goal: Continue to learn about aviation and complete his career at Sky Harbor