BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) — There is only one flight simulator in Baltimore City and it’s housed at Baltimore’s Polytechnic Institute.

Mike Jacobson, director of “Empowering Through Aviation” (ETA), said the simulator is pretty close to the real thing. And Jacobson would know — he’s a pilot with 24 years’ experience flying.

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“This is something any pilot would use, any pilot in training,” Jacobson said.

The goal of ETA is to make the pilot population more diverse, a nod to Jacobson’s late wife, Brigitte. She flew in the Navy and was a pilot for nine years, one of a few Black female pilots.

“There are lots of folks in demographics here in the city that we hope to accelerate,” Jacobson said of the aviation program.

Jacobson’s wife’s story has inspired so many young women, including Arianna Warren, the commander of the school’s Junior ROTC program.

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“To know you’re one of the few and you can inspire people to come along with you, that’s beyond me, but it makes you want to do that too,” Warren said.

Warren said she’s not sure yet whether becoming a pilot is her career calling. But it’s an exciting opportunity.

Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises, chief executive officer for Baltimore City Schools, said the simulator, a $50,000 investment, can help local students stand out and achieve their dreams.

“It’s a big reach, but to have this kind of equipment means that young people can whet their appetites and get hooked,” she said.

The school district picked up the tab for the simulator, but ETA is helping with the training and mentorship involved.

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And even though the equipment was delivered to Poly in the late summer, students have already been logging flight hours this school year.

Rachael Cardin