Program teaches students to soar

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

Some SDSU students have been spending their days in the clouds. SDSU’s student aviation program is quickly becoming one of the most highly qualified and safest flight training programs in South Dakota.

“The aviation program has an extremely good safety record,” said Jeff Boulware, associate professor of aviation education at SDSU.

The aviation program is a four-year program through the College of Education and Counseling. Students who graduate from the program will have Bachelor of Science degrees in aviation. There are three different choices of emphasis: aviation education, aviation management and aviation maintenance management.

“The aviation program is a great opportunity for SDSU’s students. I’m working on my aviation management minor and I really enjoy it,” said Rabeka Worthley, a senior aviation management and math engineering major. “The professors for this major are experts in what they do and I really couldn’t ask for better.”

Aviation education is for students who wish to become professional flight instructors. Students with this major have the possibility of being hired for regional airlines, air freight operators, charter aviation operators and other aviation positions due to the amount of experience they will have by the time they graduate.

Aviation management is a specialization for those students who wish to have their own aviation business. However, this major does not require a Certified Flight Instructor certificate. Aviation management also has a strong emphasis for those students who are also mathematics, business or finance majors.

Aviation maintenance management is for students who want a career in repairing and maintaining aircrafts. This specialization requires students to receive maintenance training at an approved maintenance school. Students then return to SDSU to finish their degree.

“We have a really good program at SDSU,” Boulware said. “It gives our students some really nice opportunities. The aviation program just keeps growing.”

Most aviation classes are held on campus, but flight operations are currently being conducted at the Brookings Airport. SDSU now has their own fleet of airplanes that are stored in a new hanger, according to Boulware.

“Now that SDSU has their own planes, it makes scheduling flight time easier for everyone,” said Worthley.

SDSU has a strict safety practice and procedure policy that all students must adhere to. The policy insures safety for both students and faculty. The aviation program also has new equipment for use as teaching aids to prepare students for flight.

SDSU now has a Frasca Tru-Flite Flight Training Device (FTD). This flight simulator is used by students as a teaching tool. It teaches students to handle emergencies and flight risks that are unsafe to practice in a real airplane. The FTD has a 170 degree wrap around visual to help simulate the view of what a real airplane looks like.

SDSU’s aviation program currently has over 100 students enrolled and the number is rising. The classroom in the sky will continue to grow as more students enroll in the program. It is quickly improving and becoming one of the most unusual, yet extraordinary features of SDSU.