Students take flight with USU's
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
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 http://www.usu.edu/aviation.