CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Southeast Missouri State University announced a new a partnership in their new aviation program at 11:45 a.m. on Friday, December 4.
The announcement was held at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.
A Cessna 172 Skyhawk plane (or similar model) that will be used for training in the aviation program was on display for the announcement.
“It’s a program that lends itself to be engaged with in the community,” Carlos Vargas, Southeast Missouri State University president.
The professional pilot program is up and running thanks to a partnership between Southeast, US aviation and the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.
Vargas said this program will not only create the next generation of pilots but also help the community.
“We are looking forward to this program being away for the airport to become more visible and for the university to become more visible. So, it’s a win, win,” he said.
U.S. Aviation’s Chief Development Officer Mark Taylor said the students will be up in the air learning from his pilots.
“We are going to be providing the aircraft, the instructors, the facilities, we are going to have the lease with the airport. So, it’s a true partnership,” Taylor said.
Taylor said after the students are trained and receive their bachelor’s degree a job could be waiting.
“Once we train them then we will bring them under our flag and use them to also train other students and just keep going,” he said.
And if the new pilot wants to work for a commercial airline, Taylor has the connections.
“We are affiliated with the United Airlines. We are apart of their aviate program, we are apart of Southwest Airlines, and then the regional for American is called Envoy. So, we have those three affiliations. So, we bring that to the table as well for job opportunities,” he said.
Vargas said the COVID-19 pandemic has set back the airline industry but knows once it recovers they will need more pilots.
“We are excited about being able to provide relevant programs that are going to promote economic development in the region,” he said.
In May, Southeast announced it would be offering the new pilot degree program.
Classroom training for students will take place at the Southeast campus. Flight training, simulator and other related training will take place at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport where USAG will have aircraft, training devices and personnel.
Flight training will begin in the first semester of courses. Students enrolled in the program will get the training needed to attain FAA certifications and obtain their private pilots, commercial pilots and flight instructor certifications.
“Conversations about this program began in 2015, shortly after I arrived,” said Dr. Carlos Vargas. “So, I am excited about this great education and career opportunity now being available to our students. I am proud to announce our partnership with US Aviation and the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport. They helped turn our conversations into reality.”
Katrina Amos, airport manager of the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, has also been involved with planning the new program.
“We are thrilled that Southeast will now offer the Professional Pilot Program and excited that the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport is a part of this historical moment. We have no doubt this will be a successful program for many years to come and look forward to a long-lasting relationship with Southeast Missouri State University and US Aviation,” she said.
The university hopes to begin the aviation program in August 2021.
USAG, a world-class professional flight training provider since 2006, will provide management services for the new program.