HNC Home Page
News Business Arts & Life Sports Opinion Calendar Archive About Us
THE LONG, HARD SLOG OF WINTER: Winter snow settles in over the Wellsville Mountains and southern Cache Valley. / Photo by Nancy Williams

Today's word on journalism

January 13, 2009


"I get the feeling that the 24-hour news networks are like the bus in the movie 'Speed.' If they stop talking for a second, they think they'll blow up."

--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Ross Martin)

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at


Feedback and suggestions--printable and otherwise--always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Students take flight with USU's aviation program

By Jamie Urruty

December 10, 2008 | The Professional Pilot Program at Utah State University is nationally ranked and draws students from all over the world, yet it is less expensive than almost anywhere else.

Logan and Cache Valley provide students diverse weather conditions and learning environments needed to succeed in the field.

With nearly 200 students currently enrolled in the program, Nolan Clifford, the director of aviation at USU, says the aspect of the program he is most proud of is these students.

"There is a pride and professionalism in them that is unequalled anywhere else," said Clifford.

To earn a degree in Aviation Technology, students are required to get six flight ratings, starting with a Private Pilot Certificate. To complete these ratings, the cost is around $46,000, not including tuition. All flight training is done at the Logan/Cache airport, where USU has an aviation campus. Students must log a minimum of 230 hours in the air and depending on the specific area the student choosing to pursue, more hours may be necessary. Some of the different areas include commercial airlines, fire fighting, and cargo.

The learning facilities are one aspect that sets USU's program apart. "We have the most modern training fleet in the U.S. and our curriculum is complete, yet without fluff," said Clifford. On the aviation campus at the airport, classrooms are set up, flight instructor's offices are located, a flight simulator room is available and aircrafts are on location. Two flight simulators are available; one a generic twin-engine aircraft and the other a commercial airliner. Having advantages like these available saves students money on flight fees and provides hands-on experience.

USU manages to gives students a great education and experience, yet is less expensive than just about anywhere else. But since the students pay for flight ratings on top of tuition bills, student flight loans are available. Clifford said most aviation students finance their education by working while going to school and some have parental financial support.

Since the events of 9/11 and the chaos after, aviation programs across the nation were left to wonder if and how enrollment rates would change. But at USU, enrollment rates are actually higher than they were before 9/11. "At first, we were spooked by it, but it did not take long to realize that the airlines had become a common carrier and the world depended on them," said Clifford.

Current aviation student, Mark Urruty, thinks the best part of the program is its dedicated teachers. "The instructors are really easy going and well-educated which creates a great learning atmosphere for everyone," Urruty said. Urruty, like most students, plans to become a flight instructor to build the hours required to get a better job before moving onto the airlines.

The hard economic times and high cost of the program should not scare future students looking for a career in aviation. "The program prepares you for an eventual lucrative career and there will always be a need for qualified pilots," Clifford said. The future of aviation is unpredictable, but is here to stay. Clifford thinks "aviation will continue to serve the traveling public and make the speed of life even faster."

To get a real-life experience of the Professional Pilot Program, Discovery Flights are available. Certified Flight Instructors will take you on a flight around Cache Valley, and even turn the controls over to you. To schedule, call (435) 753-4289.

For more information on the program and its requirements, log on to



Copyright 1997-2009 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
Best viewed 800 x 600.