Heli-Expo is field trip for ERAU students

 - February 20, 2007, 5:59 AM

More than 20 students from the Helicopter Flight program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott, Ariz. campus are on an extended field trip here at Heli-Expo.

A new academic minor added to the four-year university’s curriculum in the 2004-2005 school year, Helicopter Flight consists of three ground schools designed to prepare students for the FAA helicopter private pilot, commercial pilot and certified flight instructor certificates plus an additional class in aeronautical science, aviation safety or meteorology. Since Embry-Riddle does not have its own helicopter fleet, students must complete their flight training at an FAA-approved Part 141 flight school and pass checkrides for the three aforementioned certificates before earning the minor.

Beginning of New Curriculum

“This has been an experimental program for the past two years,” said Maj. Scott Burgess, an Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadre officer who also serves as professor of helicopter academics for the Embry-Riddle minor. “As more students get involved, the university intends to purchase one or two helicopters to start its own fleet.”

Burgess said that the program is proving popular with both students and industry representatives alike. More than 30 students are currently enrolled, and of the five who have graduated with the minor, all are employed either in the military in or the civilian helicopter industry.

“We have companies like Papillon [Grand Canyon Helicopters] asking us to send Helicopter Flight minor students for cooperative study,” Burgess said. “The program currently isn’t offered at the [university’s] Daytona Beach campus, but they are very interested in it, also.”

In addition to working at the Embry-Riddle booth here at Heli-Expo (Booth No. 1925), Helicopter Flight students will tour the Robinson Helicopter facilities in nearby Torrance before returning to campus.

Embry-Riddle also allows helicopter industry professionals to apply experience as a pilot or mechanic toward a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautics. Up to 36 semester hours can be credited toward the degree, depending on previous training and experience.