Flight programs are an exciting opportunity

Published 9:33 pm Thursday, May 8, 2014

Preparing our next generation for the jobs of tomorrow just got a little bit more fun right here in Pike County.
On Thursday, Troy University announced a partnership with Mauna Loa Helicopters and Pike County Schools that will provide commercial pilot training programs and aviation certification at both a high school and college level.
The partnership between Troy University and Mauna Loa will create the university’s first flight training program and provide a minor in Aviation Operation , as part of the Bachelor of Applied Science in Resource Management and Technology, housed in the Department of Chemistry and Physics. Students can opt for an associate’s degree program or the four-year BAS degree.
This program is exciting because the aviation industry continues to grow and expand. In this Wiregrass corridor of Alabama, we can see first-hand the impact aviation has on our economy – from the Sikorsky Support Services facility in Troy to Fort Rucker and it’s helicopter training programs in nearby Enterprise.
The aviation industry estimates a need for as many as 90,000 new pilots, both fixed-wing and rotary, over the next 10 years in North America. Internationally, that number is expected to exceed 200,000 over the next 20 years. In China alone, some 77,000 commercial pilots will be needed by 2032.
We know that aviation is a field which demands technical training and proficiency, and programs that can provide that training while earning a college degree are a wise investment.
In addition, Troy University and Pike County Board of Education will create a dual-degree program that will be the first of its kind in the nation. In fall 2014, five high school juniors will enter the associate degree program, and two years later will graduate with a high school diploma, an associate degree and a private pilot’s license.
This program is exceptionally exciting for us in Pike County, as we have long taken pride in the training and development the academy programs offer high school students.
This new associate degree program will prepare  our students at a high school level to become workforce ready while earning their diploma. The prospect of graduating from high school with the certification necessary to work in the aviation industry is going to appeal to many young people.
Innovation like this – and the tireless work of many people to bring about these partnerships – continue to make Pike County a progressive and exciting place to learn, live and do business.

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