Lucas Daniels, a junior at Riverwood International Charter School in Sandy Springs, has been interested in planes and aviation since he was in middle school. Upon beginning his freshman year, Lucas heard about the school’s flying club and immediately joined.

After just one year, Lucas became the club’s president, when the club’s faculty sponsor, Alan Sohmer, decided that Lucas would be a good fit for the position.

Lucas Daniels onboard after his discovery flight around the Gwinnett County Airport. (Special)

Riverwood’s flying club teaches students about aviation through instructional videos and takes the students to fly around the Gwinnett County Airport at the end of each semester, but the trip is financially difficult for some members. Lucas decided to look into alternatives for students to continue honing their craft.

After finding an old PC at his house that he felt would be good for the club, Lucas was on the hunt for a monitor to attach to the PC for flight simulations so that club members could practice before their discovery flight.

While looking for a monitor, Lucas heard about the PTSA Student Mini-Grant process, which awards funding each semester for projects and classroom needs. After some research, Lucas decided to apply for the grant in order to build a “full-blown simulator” that could be used for practice by all members, not just the students attending the field trip.

For the next few months, the team figured out what the costs would be and what they could use the simulator for. With the help of Sohmer, Lucas received the grant and the simulator came to life.

Lucas is mostly self-taught when it comes to planes. With the money the club was awarded, Lucas built a flight simulator called the “202 Lemma Delta.” He said that he purchased and installed software himself.

He built the computer used to run the software by following YouTube tutorials and guides from various PC enthusiast blogs and websites. Lucas had built his own computer in the past, so he had some general knowledge about the technology.

“[The club members] flew like experienced pilots due to having much practice in the flight simulator,” Sohmer said.

The simulator helps students learn more about flying before attending the discovery flights. They can decide if they want to pay for the trip or if they want to continue learning on the simulator.

During the summer of 2018, Lucas attended the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals’ (OBAP) Aerospace Career Education Academy and was selected as one of 12 participants to attend the solo flight academy. After interviewing “in the style that airline pilots are interviewed,” Lucas was accepted to the solo flight program. He has earned 15 hours towards his private pilot license through the program.

Lucas also received a $1,000 scholarship to attend the National Flight Academy in Pensacola, Fla., which brings students to learn about aviation on a Navy aircraft carrier. The sponsorship is given by Delta Air Lines and OBAP.

Outside of school, Lucas enjoys working with computers, taking them apart and seeing how things work. He also keeps “a couple of guppies, some cherry shrimp and some goldfish in a pond outside.”

What’s Next?
Lucas plans to continue to lead Riverwood’s flying club over the next two years. He would like to attend a college for aviation and eventually wants to pursue a career as a commercial pilot.

This article was written by Sloane Warner, graduated from The Weber School and will be attending Northwestern University.

Editor’s Note: Through our “Standout Student” series, Reporter Newspapers showcases some of the outstanding students at our local schools. To recommend a “Standout Student” for our series, please email with information about the student and why you think he or she should be featured.