Aviation Program expands with addition of Helicopter Flight Training
Delaware State University has announced a new partnership with the U.S. Army Cadet Command that will result in an expansion of the University’s Aviation Program into the area of helicopter flight training.
This exciting addition to the University Aviation Program degree offerings was announced during an April 20 media event on campus.
For images from the media event, click on the below link:
University President Tony Allen, Delaware Gov. John Carney, and Lt. Col. (Ret.) Michael Hales, Aviation Program Director, were joined in the announcement event by Brig. Gen. Amanda Azubuike, Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, and Maj. Gen. Michael Berry, Adjutant General with the Delaware National Guard Command.
The new program will be a significant expansion of the Aviation Program’s Professional Pilot discipline that will not only provide helicopter training to U.S. Army ROTC students, but also later will be an option for all undergraduate aviation majors as well. The first cohort of ROTC helicopter students will begin their training in the fall semester 2023. The U.S. Army will cover the cost of the tuition, books and related flight lab fees for the ROTC cadets, according to Lt. Col. Hales.
“The establishment of your Helicopter Flight Training Program is not only a momentous moment for the University, but it signifies a new avenue of opportunity for future aviators across the nation,” said Brig. Gen. Azubuike in her address at the media event. “This flight program is just the start in a national movement to create additional opportunities at Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country.”
The University’s Aviation Director added that after the first cohort, the helicopter flight training will be an option for regular undergraduate aviation students.
“This makes Delaware State University the first and currently only HBCU with an Aviation Program to offer helicopter flight training,” Lt. Col Hales said.
Dr. Michael Casson, Dean of the University’s College of Business – under which encompasses the Aviation Program – noted that Delaware State University is also the first HBCU to benefit from the Flight Act sponsored by Delaware U.S. Senator Chris Coons.
The Flight Act – which was also co-sponsored by Delaware U.S. Sen. Tom Carper – requires flight training programs in connection with senior ROTC units at HBCUs.
“As is the case with all things of great impact, this program does not happen without the collective efforts and support of so many key partners,” Dr. Casson said. “That includes the U.S. Army Cadet Command, Sen. Coons and the other elected members of the Delaware Congressional Delegation, as well as the support of Aviation Program alumni and friends.”
The Dean added that this opportunity could not be realized without the team of dedicated professionals led by Lt. Col. Hales who have been steadfast in ensuring a level of excellence in our Aviation program that is unrivaled.
Ascent Aero – an aviation company based in Medford, N.J. – has been contracted by the University to provide the training at the Delaware Airpark near Cheswold, Del., with the company’s Cabri G2 Helicopters. As part of the agreement, the University will establish several new helicopter pads at the Airpark for takeoff and landing purposes.
Similar to the professional pilot training for planes, helicopter trainees will be able to earn certifications for Private Pilot, Instrumentation Rating, Commercial and Instructor Ratings prior to graduation.
The institution’s involvement in aviation began in 1939 with a Civilian Pilot Training Program. The then-State College for Colored Students was one of six Historically Black Colleges and Universities that initiated flight training for African Americans. In 1940, the U.S. Government consolidated that program at the Tuskegee Army Air Field, where pilots and the support personnel gained great fame as the “Tuskegee Airmen.”
The current Aviation Program at Delaware State University was launched 1987 under the leadership of then-Delaware State College President William B. DeLauder and its founding director Daniel E. Coons (the namesake for the current Aviation Program hangar facility).
After operating with an older fleet of planes during its first 30 years of existence, the State of Delaware provided a $3.4 million grant from its Delaware Higher Education Economic Development Fund for the purchase of 10 then-new Vulcanair V1.O single-engine aircrafts.
The University recently augmented its fleet with the purchase of three Piper Warriors and one Piper Arrow single engine planes, bringing its total fleet to 26 aircraft – more than any other HBCU aviation program.
Over the years, the University’s Aviation Program has been a major supplier of pilots of color to the nation’s commercial airlines and military branches.