By G’raavi Junkere
OTC intends to offer students a new aviation program which will provide jobs for expected pilot and grounds crew shortages in the future and, if approved by Missouri’s Board of Education, is expected to start in the next year.
Matthew Hudson, dean of technical education at OTC and who would oversee the new aviation program, said the program would start the fall of 2017 and would be run in conjunction with Premier Flight Center in operation at the Springfield-Branson National Airport since May 16.
“It’s just a slow process,” said Hudson. “We have to go through a series of approvals first by state and federal agencies, but that’s what we’re going to be doing. I do not anticipate those to cause any problems.”
“We have been talking about building a flight school for quite some time now,” said Everheart-Bond, “with the hopes that a college would come onboard but the whole process can take a while.”
OTC’s involvement will help students manage how to pay for the course fees, which cost about $50,000 out of pocket for a student paying for it all by themselves. When OTC comes along and gets involved, students will be able to work towards getting a degree, Hudson said.
“It’ll look very much like the number of classes you will take for any other degree in Tech Ed,” said Hudson. “Twenty-five percent will be Gen-Ed required, and then the remaining 75 percent of classes you’ll take in a two-year time frame will be supportive of the aviation degree.”
As far as a prospect for the future, there is hope that a student will walk away from the program and become a regional pilot, then later a commercial pilot which can make a six-figure salary, said Hudson.
“$50,000 suddenly doesn’t seem so much when you’re making that kind of money,” said Hudson.
Each student enrolled will have their own flight instruction and one-on-one training in their Cessna 172 aircrafts, Everheart-Bond said.
“We have six certified flight instructors (CSI),” said Everheart-Bond. “Together we have over 13,000 hours combined of flight instruction.”
Around 15 students are expected to be enrolled in the fall semester, while 50 would be the maximum in the future, said Hudson. Expansion will be looked into if the demand becomes high.