NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston Southern University is launching its new aeronautics professional pilot program, the first collegiate aviation program in the state, on Thursday.
CSU Aeronautics Department Chair Col. Christopher Will says the next closest are Liberty University to the north and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to the south.
CSU’s new professional pilot program is a four-year Bachelor of Science degree program. Will says students will take flight training courses through college, flying multiple times a week to fulfill their Federal Aviation Administration requirements.
“When you see somebody who’s never even been in an airplane take a ride and look at you say, ‘I’m going to be a pilot,’ you know that you’ve opened a door for them that wasn’t there before. They didn’t even know that door was there,” Will says. “And then to see them progress in their training, in their education, and do well as students, it is absolutely wonderful, completely fulfilling and validating.”
Students in the new program will be able to take a commercial track, military track, as well as private pilot classes and learn how to train future pilots.
Will says students will be able to compete for air-line jobs after graduation.
He adds there is a national pilot shortage across the world. Will says it is forecasted that more than 700,000 commercial pilots will be needed over the next 20 years..
His goal is to introduce aviation to a diverse range of students. The incoming class is more than one-third female, and 15-20% people of color.
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion is the focus of our program both from an ethical standpoint and also business standpoint. We’ve got to open the aperture to new people to give them the opportunity to fly,” Will says. “Provide them with not just the opportunity to have that dream, but the means to realize that dream.”
The program will begin with a total of 30 slots for students.
CSU is now accepting applications for fall of 2022.
CSU Aeronautics Liftoff was from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Summerville Airport on Thursday.
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