Wichita Gets First Collegiate Pilot Training Program

 - July 8, 2021, 5:31 PM
Textron Aviation president and CEO Ron Draper hands WSU Tech president Sheree Utash the keys to a Cessna 172 Skyhawk during an event announcing the school's establishment of a professional pilot training program. (Photo: WSU Tech)

WSU Tech is expanding its aerospace and aviation curriculum in August to include a professional pilot program, the technical college of Wichita State University announced this week. Graduates of the FAA Part 141 program will earn an associate of applied science in professional pilot and be eligible for five certificates and ratings from the FAA: private, instrument, commercial, multiengine, and certified flight instructor.

Completion of the program will take two years and require students to complete a minimum of 235 flight hours. Classroom and practical instruction will occur at WSU Tech’s campus at the National Center for Aviation Training at Col. James Jabara Airport (KAAO) in east Wichita.

Textron Aviation has donated the program use of a new Cessna 172 Skyhawk with a WSU Tech livery through the airframer’s Top Hawk program. A WSU Tech spokeswoman told AIN that there are plans to expand its fleet.

The pilot program will be open to 15 students each fall. It builds upon WSU Tech’s long-standing training and education programs in aerospace manufacturing and aviation maintenance. “It is our mission to help meet our region’s workforce needs but until now we have been limited to the aviation needs that exist on the ground,” WSU Tech president Sheree Utash said. “We are excited to take our education to new heights with the addition of the professional pilot program and to help combat the robust need for trained pilots in our nation.”

WSU Tech's new program is the only collegiate pilot program in Wichita, which is home to Textron Aviation and Bombardier Learjet.