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GPISD, Vought Heritage Foundation collaborate to provide aerospace opportunities for students

The aviation industry has a long, rich history in Grand Prairie going back nearly 100 years when Curtiss-Wright Flying Service purchased 295 acres near Dalworth for a commercial port in 1930.

Since then, Grand Prairie has been closely aligned with the aviation industry from the North American Aviation plane factory to Avion Village (a unique architectural housing development that is still in operation and was built to serve the nearby North American Aviation factory) to Vought Aircraft Industries.

Likewise, the Grand Prairie Independent School District has a long history of working with non-profit organizations in the community that directly impact the lives of GPISD students and their families. Organizations such as Children First, Kids Inc., and LifeLine Shelter for Families play a significant role in building our community while serving our most vulnerable populations.

Last week, the GPISD Board of Trustees approved a lease agreement with the Vought Heritage Foundation, a non-profit group that exists to preserve the legacy of the aviation and aerospace industry in our community.

The agreement gives the Foundation the use of an unused building on district property. Per the agreement, the Foundation will take on the cost of bringing the building up to code and pay all interior maintenance and utilities costs. In turn, the group will lease the building for a nominal sum while partnering with the District to enrich our existing aerospace program.

In Texas, the aerospace and aviation industry directly employs over 153,000 workers at approximately 1,300 locations. The average salary for an aerospace worker in Texas is $80,958. Nationally, the industry will require more than 1.5 million new workers by 2025.

Some of the main work of the Foundation is the restoration of vintage materials including the A7B, RF8G, F8U-2, F4U, F6U, F7U-3, the Regulus II, the "V-173 Pancake," and the 1917 "VE-7 Bluebird,” a wooden, fabric-covered biplane that represents Chance Milton Vought’s first production aircraft. Many of these aircraft are housed at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas and some are at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.

Our shared goal is to provide students the opportunity to see, touch, hear, and experience the history and real-world applications of the aerospace industry. This facility will allow the Foundation to provide a knowledge base for the education of not only GPISD students, but all people.

Beyond the building itself, the District will continue to use the satellite site for storage, grounds equipment/supplies, and other vehicles.