Hesston College Boosts Enrollment with Aviation Bachelor’s Degree

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The skies over south central Kansas are abuzz with theexcitement and energy of student pilots in flight as Hesston College settlesinto its newest bachelor degree program in aviation-professional pilot.

In the inaugural year of the expanded program, HesstonCollege Aviation is flying with 47 students, an increase of nine from thespring 2019 semester. Total program enrollment includes students in all areasof aviation offerings – both the four-year and two-year professional pilotoptions, as well as the air traffic control program, which requires students toget a private pilot’s license, and 12 non-degree seeking students. Thefour-year program launched in August with four junior students comprising thefirst bachelor degree class, as well as 15 first-year students ready to begintheir training.

As the college worked toward aviation program expansionduring the 2018-19 year, it began to prepare for an increase in studentnumbers, both in fleet availability and flight instructors to accommodatestudent pilot training needs.

In fall 2018, the college developed a $1.4 million five-phase fleet expansion plan to add a minimum of five standardized aircraft and two training devices to the program’s assets over the next year. Completion of the plan will initially increase the fleet to a minimum of 10 aircraft.

“We’re incorporating an aggressive acquisition plan for aminimum of five Piper PA-28-181 Archer II series aircraft, foundational to ourgrowth trajectory as a four-year academic program,” said Hesston College Aviation program director Mike Baker.

To date, the collegeis in phase three of the plan. Three Piper PA-28-181 Archer II aircraftinstalled with standardized avionics platforms have been added to the fleet. Atleast two more aircraft will be added to the fleet to finish out phase three,while simultaneously working on phase four – evaluation of the current Cessnafleet for upgrades. Phase five will work to establish and grow a robustendowment for aircraft renewal and maintenance.

“Inherent to this acquisition plan is fleet commonality, anintentional development and integration of a standardized flightinstrumentation and avionics package,” said Baker. “A standardized avionicsplatform enables each student to have consistent, focused training, whileexposing them to the next generation of avionics architecture. This will betterprepare our students for opportunities that may present themselves duringjunior- and senior-year internships, and as they transition to careers with anair carrier or corporate flight department.”

From a personnel standpoint, more students equates to thenecessity for more instructors. With the new bachelor’s degree focused onhands-on industry experience, the program’s juniors and seniors who have earnedCertified Flight Instructor status, will work as flight instructor interns forthe college, helping to teach first- and second-year students in the cockpit.

Juniors and seniors also have opportunities for internshipswith area aviation industry partners.

Junior Austin Troyer, Rockingham, Virginia, is interningwith FlightSafety Textron Aviation Training in nearby Wichita as asecond-in-command (SIC) in the Raytheon-Hawker RA-4000 series aircraft.

“For, me, one of the attractive components of Hesston’sbachelor’s degree program in aviation is the opportunity to intern with variousindustry leaders in the local aviation community, said Troyer. “As an RA-4000SIC, I fulfill a valuable role as a qualified first officer during training,testing and checking events in the full-flight simulator and other advancedtraining devices.”

Prior to assuming a qualified crewmember role in thetraining and checking environment, Troyer was required to attend FlightSafetyTextron Aviation Training’s Raytheon-Hawker RA-4000 initial training program,which included nine days of ground school and another seven days in thesimulator. Upon completion of training, he received a Title 14 Code of FederalRegulations (CFR) Part 61.55(b) SIC qualification that enables him to fulfillthe duty function.

“In this internship, I have an amazing opportunity to continue to work and learn with this aircraft on a daily basis, as well as network with professional aviators from around the world,” said Troyer. “It’s an opportunity that not many junior-level college students have.”


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