Sunday, September 29, 2013

Utah Valley University partners with SkyWest Airlines

Families, students and aviation enthusiasts gathered at UVU's hangar at the Provo airport Saturday morning for a special event celebrating the 25th anniversary of teaching aviation students, including an announcement from the Utah Valley University School of Aviation Sciences. UVU's aviation program announced a bridge program with SkyWest Airlines, which will give flight students a better outlook for career opportunities in the aviation industry.

Already an accomplished flight school that recently received a spot on the flight training honor roll by The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the aviation program now has an opportunity to offer students direct mentorship by SkyWest pilots. And because SkyWest is a partner of the world's largest network carriers, the program offers a link to network carriers like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

"Students don't attend college to simply go to school. They come looking for a career at the end of their studies. The bridge program with SkyWest provides a perfect stepping point to a career in aviation," said Ryan Tanner, director of Academic Student Support.

To qualify for the program, students must maintain a minimum grade point average, complete advanced jet training courses and attain the FAA ratings of a Commercial Pilot/Instrument and Multi-Engine and Certified Flight Instructor, according to a news release on UVU's website.

Tanner also mentioned the advantage UVU flight students would have over other aspirational pilots.

"Our students are guaranteed an interview with SkyWest, and they receive a SkyWest employee number once they enter the UVU program. If they are hired, they will receive a date-of-hire from when they entered our program. It gives them a little boost over other new employees."

The Saturday event featured vintage aircraft on display and the opportunity to sit inside one of the many planes available to the students to fly.

Gil Bertelson, a former SR-71 Blackbird pilot, spoke to the attendees about his experiences. Rod Machado, an aviation author, also spoke to attendees.

Tanner also acknowledged the projected pilot shortage and the reason SkyWest decided to partner with UVU.

"Flying, as a form of transportation, will never go away and is only to increase in demand," he added. "After Vietnam, a lot of carriers hired veterans of the war. Now, many of those pilots are reaching retirement age. As a result, there is a large need for new pilots that are trained as well as UVU pilots are trained."

Dianna Bunker, an academic advisor, was also helping out at the event. She mentioned the aviation school's relative anonymity.

"A lot of people don't really know about the aviation program. I remember when people didn't know we had an aviation school. Partnering with SkyWest will really help get the word out. It seems to be a pretty great secret that we aren't trying to keep."

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