Editorial: Let’s be clear: Flight originated in North Carolina

North Carolina and Ohio have long sparred over “First in Flight” bragging rights.  Now arrives an upstart. Connecticut claims in a bill moving through its Statehouse that one Gustave Whitehead flew a “powered, heavier than air machine.”  Granted, that sounds like an airplane.  Wright Brothers proponents in both the Tar Heel and Buckeye states say Wilbur and Orville flew a true airplane “because it brought together lift, control and thrust systems for the first time,” according to the Associated Press.  The only photographic record of a pre-1903 “flight” by Whitehead is a fuzzy image of what appears to be a pea-shelling machine with big butterfly wings.  The sharp image of the Wright Brothers first flight clearly shows an airplane in flight, with Orville at the controls and Wilbur running alongside. It was taken by John T. Daniels, a brave member of the U.S. Lifesaving Service, forerunner of the Coast Guard.
This new Connecticut assertion has had the odd effect of uniting the Tar Heel and Buckeye states against a common foe.
Ohio state Rep. Rick Perales, who sponsored a competing piece of legislation challenging the Connecticut measure, said Ohio and North Carolina are teaming up to champion the Wright brothers’ claim.  In fact, the Christian Science Monitor reported in 2003 — the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ flight — that Ohio and North Carolina had largely put aside their rivalry.  “In Dayton, they proved that powered flight was practical; at Kitty Hawk, they proved that it was possible,” according to a 2003 quote in that newspaper by Bob Petersen, a park ranger at the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.
Here in North Carolina, we know a thing or two about aviation history.
Piedmont Airlines, an airline that was actually beloved by its passengers, made its maiden flight from Wilmington to Cincinnati on Feb. 20, 1948. The airline was based in Winston-Salem but had maintenance facilities in Wilmington. Operating as a mail carrier as well as a passenger airline, it served smaller airports such as Rocky Mount, Southern Pines, Fayetteville and Kinston.
Piedmont became part of U.S. Airways in 1989, and that airline continues to serve the state with flights both nationally and internationally.
With our special place in aviation history, we welcome Connecticut’s entry into the battle for air history supremacy. But clearly it was that 1903 flight on a cold Kitty Hawk day that launched the age of aviation, an era that has culminated in the modern age with such advances as shoe searches and body scanners.
North Carolina is first in flight. We always will be.
A version of this editorial first appeared in the Wilmington Star News, a Halifax Media Group newspaper.

Taking flight: Art welcomes airport visitors

Dawn Kane – News & Record

Four metal sculptures soon will greet Piedmont Triad International Airport customers as they walk to its rental car lot.

Come fall, a large piece of art created by a North Carolina artist will hang from the ceiling in the main terminal.

The airport, like many others worldwide, has launched plans to enhance patrons’ experience through public art.

“Someone once told me that they didn’t envy me because I’m managing a facility that people don’t want to spend any time in,” said Kevin Baker, executive director of the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority. “They want to get out of here as fast as they can.”

“So what we’re doing is managing a piece of time that people don’t enjoy,” Baker said. “The idea is to make that as tolerable and enjoyable as you possibly can by having things feel nice, having things look nice.”

One result: a master plan for public art.

The plan was created by Greensboro public-art consultant Cheryl Stewart, PTI Marketing and Customer Relations Manager Stephanie Freeman and a volunteer advisory team of Triad art professionals.

It sets guidelines for how PTI can include temporary and permanent installations of sculpture, paintings and other art — even performance art such as musicians during the holiday season.

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The plan shows places, inside and out, that are ripe for art: baggage claim, tunnels to and from long-term parking, even a taxiway wall.

It encourages including artistic pieces and details in any future design and construction plans.

PTI will seek art that captures the story and spirit of the 12-county region.

“We want somebody to fly in and know that they are landing in Piedmont Triad, North Carolina,” Stewart said.

Baker praises the plan.

“I am an engineer by training, so I’m always looking for a plan,” Baker said. “I also have a finance background, so I’m looking for it not to cost a lot of money. They figured out a way to make that happen.”

Four years ago, airport leaders brainstormed ways to improve the experience of nearly 2 million passengers who travel through PTI each year.

Among the ideas: a better terminal, better landscaping, free Wi-Fi — and art.

“People get off their airplane, and it’s their first time here, and this is the first thing they experience,” Baker said. “If there is art, that sends a message about this community.”

The airport added Wi-Fi, charging stations for electronic gadgets, new furniture and televisions. It topped signs with wooden arches. It spruced up landscaping.

Now it’s replacing ceilings near ticket counters, adding LED illumination that can change colors.

For art expertise, the Airport Authority turned to Stewart.

Stewart helped to create the public art master plan for Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

She chose art for the new terminal there that opened last May.

To give visitors a preview of what was to come, Freeman and Stewart gathered art to display at a networking event last spring.

Many of those pieces are gone now, replaced by others.

So far, the art has cost little cash. Some are on loan or lease.

Drive into the airport and look to the right. Atop a small hill stands a stainless steel “Sunflower Gate,” created by local sculptor Jim Gallucci.

Four of Gallucci’s oak-leaf column lights welcome visitors at terminal doors.

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“Gone to the Unseen,” a piece by Wayne Vaughn of Graham, dresses up the exterior lower level, near the airport fountain.

Near the escalator on the lower level hang oil-on-canvas portraits by Greensboro artist Hunter Hadley.

Another long wall displays digital prints on canvas by High Point artist Andrew Doss.

More art is in the pipeline.

Pedestals for temporary displays of ceramics and sculpture will be installed in meet-and-greet areas. Up first: pieces by Greensboro artist Noé Katz.

When the airport turns off the fountain next winter, art students from Greensboro Day School will create another temporary installation there.

Down the line, Freeman would like to see terrazzo floors on the two concourses. “Maybe something cool could be incorporated into the terrazzo that is art,” Freeman said.

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On April 16, four pieces of metal sculpture by Georgia artist Hongsock Lee will be unveiled on airport grounds.

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The Public Art Endowment of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, the Vilcek Foundation of New York — and a bit of serendipity — made it happen.

Lee’s pieces had graced the Vilcek Foundation’s rooftop garden. But when the foundation moved, it opted to give the pieces to a nonprofit.

Lee contacted Laura Way, executive director of Greensboro’s Greenhill gallery, where he had sold jewelry. The local art endowment arranged to receive the pieces and give them to the airport.

The local Cemala Foundation and the Airport Authority will share the $40,000 cost of the new hanging piece for the airport terminal.

Through Wednesday, the airport authority will seek applications and ideas from North Carolina artists.

An artist selection panel will interview a short list of artists and give each $500 to create a proposal.

The panel and airport authority will choose an artist in July, with the artwork to be installed in September.

Stewart expects applications from metal sculptors, glass, mosaic and fabric artists.

“I have, like, four different visions in my head of what it could be,” she said.

HondaJet receives FAA provisional type certification

Honda Aircraft Company announced today that the HondaJet has received provisional type certification (PTC) from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This achievement indicates the FAA’s approval of the HondaJet design based on certification testing, design reviews, and analyses completed to date.

“Provisional type certification for the HondaJet is a tremendous milestone for the program, and we are pleased to reach this significant step toward customer deliveries and entry into service,” said Honda Aircraft Company President and CEO Michimasa Fujino. “Honda Aircraft has completed nearly all of the testing and reports required by the FAA, and we are very close to achieving final type certification for the world’s most advanced light jet.”

A provisional type certificate is a design approval by the FAA and is common for business jets when final certification is near. Honda Aircraft has demonstrated that the HondaJet is safe for flight and meets the airworthiness standards defined by the PTC.

Melvin Taylor, manager of the FAA’s Atlanta Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), said:
“It is a pleasure for the Atlanta ACO to issue Honda Aircraft Company a provisional type certificate for the Model HA-420. It is a milestone event for a first time aircraft manufacturer to receive its first type certificate. This issuance speaks well to the hard work put forward by all the Honda and FAA staff working in a collaborative manner. The Atlanta ACO takes pride in being part of Honda’s introduction of such an advanced and uniquely designed aircraft to the aviation market. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Honda as we move to final completion of their HA-420 approval.”

Honda Aircraft is targeting final FAA type certification in the next few months, following the completion of final testing and approval by the FAA.

The four HondaJets in the flight test fleet have performed as expected and flown more than 2,500 hours. The flight test program has conducted extensive testing for certification at more than 70 locations in the United States.

The HondaJet is being manufactured at Honda Aircraft Company’s world headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina, where aircraft production is underway in preparation for customer deliveries. The final assembly line is full with 12 aircraft and another five are currently in the production flow. Honda Aircraft will begin first deliveries after FAA type certification is achieved.

The HondaJet was developed from a clean sheet design and incorporates advanced technologies and innovations. The HondaJet Over-The-Wing Engine Mount (OTWEM) configuration, natural-laminar flow wing and composite fuselage were developed from long-term Honda research activities. These innovations combine to make the HondaJet the fastest, most spacious and most fuel-efficient jet in its class.

NC’s Team AeroDynamix & The Blue Angels perform at Tuscaloosa this weekend

Expect a little extra noise and a lot of traffic around Tuscaloosa as the Tuscaloosa Regional Air Show returns this weekend.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron headline the military and civilian acts scheduled to perform. This will be the fourth appearance for the Blue Angels in Tuscaloosa since 2009; the most recent show being in 2012.

Team AeroDynamix based out of Gold Hill, North Carolina will be performing at Tuscaloosa as well.  According to pilot Len Leggette this is the first time the team has performed at this show.  “We are excited to make the trip to Alabama and perform with the Blues” says Leggette.  Team AeroDynamix is scheduled to perform in 17 shows in mostly the eastern United States in 2015.
A F-22A “Raptor” flies at NAS Meridian near Meridan, Miss., March 30, 2008. (Mark Almond/malmond@al.com)

In addition to the Blue Angels F/A-18 “Hornets,” two of the latest military aircraft will fly. Vapor clouds likely will form around the wings of the U.S Air Force F-22A “Raptor” air-superiority fighter as it is put through its paces. The U.S. Marines will demonstrate a MV-22B “Osprey” tilt rotor, an aircraft that flies likes an airplane and lands and takes off like a helicopter.

Vintage military aircraft will also fly, including Vietnam War-era AH-1 “Cobra” helicopters and an A-4 “Skyhawk.” The Korean War is represented with a F-86E “Sabre” and a P-51D “Mustang” from World War II will fly also. The F-22A and P-51D will fly in close formation during the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight.

Several civilian aerobatic pilots will show off their skills. Skydivers will jump out of perfectly good aircraft to entertain the crowd.

Aerobatic champion Rob Holland will give a military veteran a ride-of-a-lifetime. Veterans can register online for a chance at the flight in his airplane but you had better hurry since the deadline is this morning.

You can also take a flight in the Commemorative Air Force B-17G “Flying Fortress.” The World War II bomber named “Texas Raiders” will make several flights from Thursday though Sunday.

MV-22BA MV-22B “Osprey” flies at MCAS Cherry Point in Havelock, NC, Saturday, May 4, 2012. (Mark Almond/malmond@al.com)

More than 40 aircraft ranging from a Cessna 150 to a MiG-17 fighter will be on static display.

Gates open at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport. Admission is $5 in advance or $10 at the gate with children 12 and under free. There are reserved seating areas available for an additional charge. More admission information is available here.

Limited parking is available at the airport. Free shuttle buses will carry spectators from three locations: the Intermodal Facility parking deck in downtown Tuscaloosa, the K-Mart parking lot on Skyland Boulevard and Tuscaloosa County High School.

Below is the tentative schedule for the airshow with links to the performers websites:

10 a.m.         Gates open

11:45 a.m.    Opening ceremonies

11:48 a.m.    National anthem with Mike Wiskus circling Lucas Oil Skydivers

11:53 a.m.    Mike Wiskus Lucas Oil Pitts aerobatic teaser

11:58 a.m.    Rob Holland Windows World aerobatic teaser

12:03 p.m.    Sky Soldiers AH-1 Cobra demonstration team

12:18 p.m.    Gary Ward MX2 aerobatics

12:32 p.m.    Disabled American Veterans B-25 “Panchito” demonstration

12:46 p.m.    U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey demonstration

1:03 p.m.      Matt Younkin Beech 18 aerobatic demonstration

1:18 p.m.      Team Aerodynamix

1:39 p.m.      Rob Holland Windows World MXS aerobatic demonstration

1:54 p.m.      Lucas Oil Skydivers with Mike Wiskus aerobatics

2:08 p.m.      Doug Matthews A-4 Skyhawk or F-86 Sabre demonstration

2:18 p.m.      U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor demonstration

2:33 pm        U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight (F-22 and P-51 Mustang)

2:43 p.m.      Rob Holland & Gary Ward 2-ship aerobatics

3 p.m.           U.S. Marine Corps Blue Angels C-130 demonstration

3:10 p.m.      U.S. Navy Blue Angels

5 p.m.           Air show ends – gates close

Improper rigging brings down experimental aircraft in Mt. Airy

General Aviation News

The BD-5, an experimental amateur-built airplane equipped with an automobile engine, was never certified as airworthy, therefore, it was never issued an airworthiness certificate. The pilot reported that he intended to perform a fly-by before landing at the airport in Mount Airy, N.C.

As he approached the runway about 50 feet above ground level, and advanced the throttle to full, the engine quit. The pilot pitched the airplane up and to the right, then turned to the left.

The airspeed decreased to 100 mph, and the airplane started to vibrate, so the pilot quickly leveled the wings and pitched downward to prevent the plane from entering a stall. The pilot continued to fly a wings-level descent until the airplane hit the ground, seriously injuring the pilot.

Examination of the airplane revealed that the engine choke cable was rigged backwards. Therefore, pulling the choke knob out opened the choke valve and pushing it in closed it.

The choke knob, which was located directly behind the pilot’s head, was found pushed in during the post-accident examination.

Investigators determined that it was likely that the pilot’s head contacted the choke while he was responding to the loss of engine power, which resulted in a closed choke and a corresponding total loss of engine power.

The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident as a total loss of engine power due to the pilot’s inadvertent closing of the engine choke. Contributing to the accident was the improper rigging of the engine choke cable.

Federal aviation officials investigating after small plane goes off runway in Angier, NC

Federal aviation officials are investigating after an incident involving a small plane at the Kennebec Airfield near Angier.

WTVD of Durham reported Friday (http://abc11.tv/1FSVl8s) that a pilot in his early 20s was flying from Sanford to Kennebec around 8:45 p.m. when he misjudged the runway, hit a ditch and skidded off the runway.

The pilot was the only one onboard the small four-seat plane, which was damaged. The pilot was uninjured.

Fire crew responded to a small fuel leak.

Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration were expected to be on scene Saturday.

Special Ops positions open for women

David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — Directive 2015-08 signed by Army Secretary John M. McHugh has opened more than 4,100 positions to women in the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).

The directive opened positions in the USASOC, National Guard airborne battalions and tactical psychological teams.

Although recent news has focused on female Soldiers attending the pre-Ranger course, USASOC officials said the directive is significant because it opens unit positions in direct operational roles.

“In the aggregate, there have been approximately 5,000 positions opened within the command since 2013,” according to a USASOC statement.

About 1,000 positions were opened to women following the 2013 rescinding of the Direct Ground Combat Rule. This paved the way for more women to serve in direct combat roles and in military occupational specialties (MOS) that were previously open only to males.

Over the last two years, USASOC has been reviewing all positions that were closed and has maintained a “phased approach to opening of previously closed positions in order to remain synchronized with the Army,” an official said.

Since 2013, the integration of women into USASOC has been so rapid that the proportion of females to males serving in USASOC’s civil affairs and military information support operations, or MISO, is now comparable to that of women serving in the active Army overall, according to the command.

MISO replaced the term psychological operations in 2010.

There are more than 1,000 women assigned to USASOC, and, “based on the recent opening of additional positions, that number will increase over time based on how Human Resources Command locates and assigns Soldiers to the command,” according to USASOC.

Most positions with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment – all pilots, crew chiefs and enabler positions – opened to women as of July 23, 2014, except for 13F, fire support specialist, as it is still a closed MOS in the Army.

Women have filled many positions, and some are now “operationally employed into combat missions,” according to a USASOC statement. Additionally, women have been assigned to non-aviation, battalion-level positions within the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

The directive has resulted in the Army recoding about 4,000 “enabler positions” down to the battalion level in 1st Special Forces Command and Special Warfare Center and School.

“Most likely, this will allow women to be assigned during the normal assignment and move cycle this summer or coming fall,” a USASOC official said.

The recent directive will not affect specialties closed Armywide to women. It will only open USASOC positions MOSs open to women elsewhere in the Army.


Studies and standards

Regarding the 75th Ranger Regiment, USASOC “is synchronized with the Army and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) efforts as we move forward between now and January 2016 toward making a recommendation” regarding gender integration, officials said.

USASOC “is collaborating with the Army and SOCOM on the physical standards validation for Special Forces Assessment and Selection, and the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, and with SOCOM’s social science studies focused on (Special Operations Forces, or SOF-) specific issues,” according to the command.

The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command has been studying all aspects of gender-integration efforts, officials added. All Soldiers are evaluated in a gender-neutral environment with the end goal of identifying the Army’s best performers and those with the greatest potential for future service.

“HRC rightly considers factors other than coding of a position for gender in locating and assigning Soldiers to USASOC,” according to the command. “Other factors, such as airborne qualification or willingness to attend Airborne School and higher deployment tempo considerations bear on the decision to assign the right Soldier to a USASOC unit.”


Phased approach

The USASOC Implementation Plan is a deliberate, phased approach that first “assigns senior, experienced female Soldiers to support the expansion of opportunities in USASOC enabler positions and also to newly opened units and positions previously closed to women,” according to the command.

USASOC is conducting a review of all special operations jobs and assessing how to further integrate women to support the Army Special Operations Forces 2022, or ARSOF 2022, priority – Invest in Human Capital.

“The desired end state is enhanced capability, supporting the Army chief of staff’s strategic priority to build adaptive Army leaders for a complex world,” according to the USASOC statement. “USASOC is committed to maintaining the highest standards and delivering the most qualified operators to the nation, irrespective of gender.”

USASOC was actually pursuing gender-integration prior to the 2013 rescinding of the Direct Ground Combat Rule, officials said. Women have been serving in civil affairs and MISO now for nearly 20 years.

Greenville’s Dugger piloting missionary aviation operations

Angelia Davis – Greenville Online

Dan Dugger has long desired to marry his passion for flying with a way of serving people in need.

The Kentucky native has been flying since he was 17 and, “while I love helping and serving the people that own the airplanes, you really want to try to give to people that don’t even have the ability to help themselves in one respect,” he said.

The answer to Dugger’s prayer is his new nonprofit organization, Mission 214.

The 214 part, he says, comes from the James 2:14 in the Bible, which states that faith without works is dead.

“If you’re not out there doing something about what you believe then you’re just religious. You’re not doing anything at all,” said Dugger.

What Dugger does for business is serve as the founder and president of Dugger Aviation, a Greenville-based company that buys, sells, rents and maintain airplanes for clients all over the world.

“Think of it like a real estate agent for airplanes,” said Dugger, who co-owns the company with his wife, Deborah. “Somebody needs a jet, we find one for them, sell it to them and then we take care of it for them.

“We crew the pilots, pump the gas, make sure it’s ready and running when they’re here and then we fly them where they need to go and bring them back,” he said.

Dugger said he previously worked for Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway. He was also a vice president with NetJets and Marquis Jet before his family, which includes sons Wyatt, 5 and Reed, 7, moved to Greenville from Florida.

Dugger Aviation has offices in Oklahoma City and Brazil. Its headquarters is at the Greenville Downtown Airport..

What Dugger does with his nonprofit is support missionary aviation operations.

For example, Dugger went on a mission trip with a group of people to Papua, New Guinea.

It’s a remote part of the world that’s all mountains, Dugger said.

“There are no flat plains, ” he said. “Literally, there are no roads, no cars, no cell towers, no nothing.”

But among the small group of people that live on those mountains are children who carry machetes to help hack down the weeds that constantly grow in that tropical forest.

“If one of those little kids hits their leg, the mom has difficulty in pregnancy, they just simply run out of medical supplies or are shy on food or whatever, there is no way for them to get out and get help,” he said.

“They are literally surrounded for 60-70 miles of nothing in any direction. The easiest way to get to them is with a helicopter or with an airplane,” Dugger said. “They’ll have an air strip that they have hacked down, and we go flying in there and deliver what they need.”

The people in many such countries, in many cases, have their own form of commerce. They just can’t get it out, Dugger said.

In Papua, the people grow coffee beans.

“We’ll take those coffee beans, put them on an airplane, fly them down to the coast and sell them,” Dugger said. “We do the trading for them, literally take the money and buy everything from food to medical supplies to new machetes, fly them back and give it to them.”

“It’s a fantastic experience to be able to go in there and do that” Dugger said. “They just don’t have resources, so we use the airplanes to do that.”

Dugger also serves on the board of directors of JAARS, a North Carolina-based aviation non-profit serving third world countries by supplying missionaries with the tools and equipment they need.

JAARS contacted Dugger about a group that needs help in Tanzania.

“We’re going to go over to Tanzania in June and meet with those folks that are flying back and forth, trying to find very remote groups of people,” Dugger said.

They not only try to impact the people living in the remote areas, but take them the materials and the foods they need, Dugger said.

“It’s more about really understanding that they just need some basic help,” he said.

But it just isn’t a matter of convenience, he said. For instance, they may have a generator that runs their hospital. If something happens to the belt on that generator, the need is immediate.

“If that generator’s not running, then their oxygen is not flowing. It’s a matter of life and death for most of these people,” he said. “I don’t even know how these people are living where they’re living on top of these mountains. No one can get to them, not even their own government.”

“They’re just out there and these guys go out there every day and just basically sacrifice their lives to land where they’re landing,” he said.

Dugger is trying to get others in the aviation community involved in such mission work. His nonprofit is just now putting together ideas of how to notify people that they really want their participation.

Anything is helpful, he said.

The people in these “crazy remote areas” don’t need people to come in to take over their lives. They just need a little help, Dugger said.

“What they give back is so much more than anything you could ever do in a week’s time,” he said. “It’s just fantastic.”

Greensboro City Council approves up to $2.5M in PTI infrastructure funding

Katie Arcieri – Reporter-Triad Business Journal

The Greensboro City Council on Tuesday approved plans to invest up to $2.5 million for infrastructure and grading on land around Piedmont Triad International Airport that is being marketed to large aviation tenants.

City Councilman Zack Matheny said the council voted 6-1 to support funding the work, which will help prepare land for aviation companies that could create thousands of jobs. The vote of support is the first step in a larger regional effort led by Matheny to raise up to $5 million for the work.

By and large, there was “resounding support” by the council for the PTI funding, Matheny said, adding that it was one of the most exciting city decisions during his eight years on the council.

Matheny said the vote was an example of a proactive approach by the council to spur job growth.

“We are choosing to govern this and move forward,” Matheny said. “That is extremely rare that we are pushing this forward.”

Matheny said his next step is to move forward on formal discussions with other elected officials from nearby municipalities, including High Point Mayor Bill Bencini and Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, about pitching in on the remaining $2.5 million.

A-B Tech in Asheville launching aviation program

Julie Ball – Citizen Times

A-B Tech is partnering with WNC Aviation to launch a new program that will allow students to learn to fly and earn a commercial pilot’s license.

The program is just the third aviation program offered at a North Carolina community college, according to R. J. Corman, chair of the Aviation Management and Career Pilot Technology program at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

Classes begin in August, but the college is holding a pre-registration event Wednesday at WNC Aviation.

Students will earn their two-year associate’s degree. They can either opt for the aviation management track or the “career pilot” option, which allows them to earn a private pilot license, instrument rating certification and finally a commercial pilot license.

“This way students can get the education, get the degree, but also get the FAA credentials which is ultimately the name of the game that you need to be able to get a job,” Corman said.

In addition to A-B Tech tuition and fees, students interested in learning to fly will pay about $40,000 for the flight training portion of the two-year program. Corman said that’s actually below average costs for similar training.

Classes will be held at A-B Tech’s location on Airport Road not far from the Asheville Regional Airport.

The program will offer scholarships, and veterans will be able to use the GI bill to cover the cost of the flight training.

Charles Thomas, president of WNC Aviation, said right now, veterans complete the private pilot certification before the GI bill will cover the instrument pilot training and the commercial pilot training.

“The big difference (with this program) is instead of only being able to use their GI bill for a portion of their training, they’ll be able to use their GI Bill for all of their training,” Thomas said.

For those who graduate with a commercial license, they’ll also need to log fewer hours after they leave the program in order to obtain the FAA status required to fly large jetliners.

Those pilots need what’s referred to as Airline Transport Pilot or ATP certification, which requires 1,500 flight hours. By completing the A-B Tech program, they’ll be able to reduce that amount to 1,250 hours.

“That’s approximately six months of flight training that they won’t have to do,” Corman said.

The program also includes a management option geared toward jobs in airport or airline management.

Corman and Thomas say they know there’s demand for the program. As older pilots continue to retire, Corman said some 30,000 pilots will be needed in the U.S. over the next five years.

Registration hasn’t begun, but already Thomas is hearing from people who want to enroll including a soldier who contacted him from Afghanistan.

“Word of mouth has traveled pretty quick. I know there are lots of veterans who are interested,” Thomas said.

Find out more

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and WNC Aviation will hold a pre-registration event for those interested in the new aviation program 2-4 p.m. March 25 at WNC Aviation. Financial aid and admissions staff will be on hand to talk to potential students about the program.