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Program provides great heights for students

The aviation program at Ohio State, equipped with professional instructors and a perfectly situated airport, gives students the experience and knowledge to prepare for their future careers in aviation.

The OSU Flight Team is composed of mainly OSU Aviation undergraduates pursuing a career in the aviation field. Most are aspiring to be airline pilots, corporate pilots, join the military, or work in the management field in aviation.

Joshua Yurman, a member of the Flight Team from 2002-2005, said he joined because it allowed him to dive into something he loved.

“I was surrounded by others who also shared my passion. We ate, slept and drank flying. The aviation community is a small one and it was great to be a part of something great,” Yurman said.

The process of getting pilot certificates and ratings is a long road. At OSU, it is fit into the curriculum so that at that the end of the four-year aviation degree, a student has all they need. This includes a private pilot certificate, instrument rating (so a pilot may fly in bad weather and poor visibility), a commercial pilot certificate (allowing a pilot to fly for compensation or hire) and a certified flight instructor certificate.

There are other ratings you can earn through OSU including a multi-engine rating (license to operate an aircraft with more than one engine), instrument rated flight instructor (allowing one to teach students trying to earn their instrument rating) and eventually the multi-engine flight instructor certificate, said Yurman.

“I decided on Ohio State because of the reputation OSU’s aviation program has,” Yurman said. “Flight team is a fantastic organization that does so many things to prepare students for their careers.”

Through the events, members gain knowledge and experience of both flying skills as well as knowledge of regulations and physics of flight. In addition, flight team members make new contacts that can help throughout their careers.

“Many of us return after graduating to help either coach, judge or facilitate competitions or donate time in any number of other ways,” Yurman said. “This provides great access for the students to a huge pool of professionals in the full swing of their careers.”

Those who return range in all sorts of careers, from airline managers, hiring directors, pilots of regional and major airlines and corporate flight departments.

Yurman is now a pilot for a regional airline based in Washington D.C.

“I owe a great deal of my success to the OSU Flight Team as well as the OSU department of flight education,” he said.

The OSU airport is situated and sized to serve OSU’s flight training activities and house many corporate and personal aircrafts. It also serves as a home for Ohio Department Of Transportation and MedFlight.

Adam Stiffler, a 2005 graduate, calls the airport home. Stiffler returned to work as a pilot for an aircraft-operating corporation based in northwest Columbus.

“I credit my flight team experience with not only giving me the opportunity to build upon and expand the core skills I developed as an aviator in OSU’s professional program, but also the contacts that helped further my own career, leadership and organizational skills that I use almost every day, and friends I depend on and whose company I enjoy,” Stiffler said.

The Flight Team competes on the national level against other collegiate teams from around the country. The team prepares for a regional flight/ground meet during Autumn Quarter, and if they qualify they are invited to the national meet during Spring Quarter.

OSU hosted both the regional and national air meets for the 2010-2011 school year. OSU qualified to attend the national meet in May at Kansas State University.

The team practices three nights a week, all day on Saturday and upon approaching a competition, practice increases to five days a week.

The practices are completed in the OSU flight simulators, OSU aircraft, a donated aircraft from the alumni, and work on several different ground events — testing airmen’s knowledge in federal aviation regulations and private pilot knowledge of charts, airspace regulations, weather and airport operations. They also practice aircraft preflight, which entails looking for mechanical discrepancies prior to flight.

On the flight side, the members practice cross-country navigation flying and precision landings, as in landing on a specified spot on the runway.

Scott van Ooyen is a volunteer coach for the OSU Flight Team and a 1987 aviation engineering graduate from OSU. A few coaches are flight instructors at OSU and the rest are pilots for major airlines or NetJets.

“Our goal is to give back what Ohio State and Ohio State Aviation gave us,” van Ooyen said. “A great education, a quality flight training background, and most importantly a great group of friends to hang out with over the years. Many of us fly together now in today’s flight decks.”

Having been in the field professionally for years, these pilots understand the importance of a training program and how it creates good pilots.

Stiffler said he believes there will be higher interest from students.

“Flight training programs should prepare for an influx of students and excellent opportunities for those students, such as the flight team should be fostered and promoted,” he said.

Training new pilots will become critical heading into the next decade, van Ooyen said.

“There will be a major shortage worldwide of professional pilots beginning in the next five years and then on,” he said. “It is important for us in the field to encourage the next generations to become interested in aviation.”


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