COMPTON, California (NBCLatino) - A unique program is helping at-risk youth soar high above the streets of Compton, California.
Kids can get an early start on their dream of becoming pilots, while being inspired to get better grades and stay away from drugs and gangs.
Rodney Cunningham is just 17, but he already has his wings.
"I feel like im above reality, like above everything, everything stops once I get in that plane," he says.
At the Aeronautical Museum in Compton flight instructor Robin Petgrave is empowering kids to dream big.
"I have an opportunity to take a kid that was destined for one direction and completely change them, make them something better than even they thought they could be," Petgrave says.
The program requires commitment.
Students sign a contract, vowing to stay out of gangs, stay away from drugs and work hard to get better grades.
Flying is the vehicle to setting big goals.
"Here its not about teach you how to fly. It's give you the skills and the tools so you can do anything in life you want to," Petgrave says.
From flight simulation, students move on to engineering, math and technology.
The possibilities are endless.
"It's amazing how such a young girl can do such great things and it makes you feel like you know, there's no limit," says Cinthya Hernandez.
Students can fly solo once they reach the age of 16 and and put in 20 hours of flight time with an instructor, but they can start with the program as early as 5 years of age.