Molly O’Brien KTEN
NASA, FAA partner with Atoka schools for ‘vertiport’
April 7, 2022
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  • NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration have certified the Atoka Public Schools experimental landing surface.

    The vertipad — a landing surface that can serve as a “hub” in a network of flying vehicles — is now designated at “XATK” by those two agencies.

    “The aeronautic charts that come out will actually show our pad out there,” said Atoka Public Schools STEM coordinator David Swift. “That way, other flight paths and things can see that that’s there.”

    Fourth grade teacher Geraldine Southern said the partnership between the district and two federal agencies opens the doors for students.

    “It gives them a chance for exposure; it gives a chance to explore different avenues and know that they have a lot more options,” she said.

    Atoka High School junior Abby Roland said the STEM program helped her realize she wanted to study aerospace engineering.

    “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. My whole family was nursing and highway patrol, stuff like that, so I didn’t know what I wanted to do… but then the STEM program started,” she said.

    Swift hopes other districts follow the lead of Atoka Public Schools.

    “I’m hoping it’s a leadership opportunity and an opportunity to grow this for all of southeast Oklahoma,” he said.