Senator’s wife throws support to budding aviators

Ann Kopecky

Ann Kopecky

On Dec. 17, 1903 Orville and Wilbur Wright changed the world with their historic 12-second flight.

Today, a century later, the blue sky has become a highway of transportation and an endless path of opportunity as the worldwide aviation industry continues to grow.

Since its birth five years ago, South Dakota State University’s Aviation Education program has also continued to grow and improve, thanks to its dedicated students, hard-working faculty and generous supporters of the program.

On Saturday, one famous contributor expanded opportunities for aviation students by presenting a $10,000 check to the program.

Linda Hall Daschle, a former acting and deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, presented the donation to the aviation education program at the South Dakota Art Museum Auditorium Saturday afternoon.

The donation will be used to establish the Linda Hall Daschle Scholarship for Aviation Excellence to support and encourage students interested in pursuing a career in aviation through SDSU.

“This scholarship will help train these young people so they can gain leadership in the industry,” Daschle told an audience of aviation students, faculty members and SDSU administrators.

The endowed scholarship was initially funded by the Amelia Earhart Pioneering Achievement Award, which Daschle recently received for exemplifying the spirit of Earhart.

Daschle said that she hopes the scholarship will benefit those students who also demonstrate the same strength and character as Earhart.

“I know what great dividends our nation receives when we invest in our students,” Daschle said.

The aviation education program began five years ago through a partnership with the College of Education and Counseling, Big Sioux Aviation in Brookings and Business Aviation of Sioux Falls.

Previously the university offered flight training classes and for the last 10 years, students were given the opportunity to get a minor in aviation education.

The four-year program stemmed from a growing public interest in learning to fly an aircraft and a nationwide shortage of general aviation instructors.

Last spring 14 students, the first class of the aviation program, graduated with a degree in career and technical education with a specialization in aviation education and a certification for flight instruction through the Federal Aviation Administration.

Today more than 100 students are enrolled in the program.

Jeffrey Boulware, coordinator of the aviation education program, said that the scholarship will help students pay for the additional costs of the program.

Flight costs, which include aircraft rental and flight instruction, are approximately $30,000 for the four-year training.

“Our students cannot operate without some sort of external support,” Boulware said.

Besides the cost of the program, Daschle also recognized other challenges for the aviation industry.

After 9-11, the airline industry lost over $11 billion, Daschle said.

Daschle said that she hopes the industry will continue to meet the challenges and continue servicing the world.

“In this century, as in the last, I’m sure that aviation will continue to play a role,” Daschle said. “May all your dreams take wings and fly.”

#1.886839:3203032628.jpg:Aviation2.jpg:Linda Hall Daschle spoke about her own love for aviation at the South Dakota Art Museum Auditorium Saturday. Daschle, who donated money for an aviation education scholarship, said that she hopes the scholarship will continue to grow and help students succeed in an aviation career.: