Taking education to new heights
BROOKINGS, SD (KELO) — South Dakota State University has expanded its aviation program, with the addition of an all-new training aircraft.
Shelbe Jarrett was the first SDSU student to take the controls of the school’s new custom-built Cessna Skyhawk.
“It was the first time, you know, I was given the keys to a brand new plane, straight out of the factory, it only had a few hours on it, so it was just an experience It still had that new airplane smell, it smells like a new car,” Jarrett said.
Jarrett flew the plane from the Textron factory in Kansas to its new home in the SDSU hangar.
“You know, the flight has been smooth so far,” Jarrett said. “Yeah, it was a great flight, a fantastic experience.”
SDSU was one of 5 universities to receive an aircraft under the Top Hawk 2022 program.
“This is our very first new aircraft,” said Devin Bastemeyer, director of flight operations. “Just being able to show our students the various avionics upgrades and then the safety features that come with that is a really good experience for them.”
When students step onto the plane, they are greeted with some of the most advanced technology, preparing them for their future career in aviation.
“It’s a technologically advanced aircraft, which gives our students the hands-on experience to get on board and get that kind of one-on-one attention with advanced avionics before they embark on their professional careers,” Jarrett said.
“We have 11 other Cessna 172s, the other newer one is a 2007 model, so the avionics and autopilot on that one are a bit more upgraded,” Bastemeyer said. “It has enhanced stability protection, so it has safety features that are sort of built in that also make it a safer aircraft.”
SDSU is home to the state’s only aviation program, serving 180 students. This aircraft will not only benefit current students, but will also be used as a recruitment tool to reach future students.
“All of our students will be able to use it, with plans to feature it on cross-country profiles all over South Dakota, show it off at different air shows, air flights, and community events,” said said Bastemeyer.
“Aviation, like any industry, is constantly changing and adapting and technology is no exception, technology is advancing rapidly so it is extremely important that we somehow grow with the technological advancements that are happening in society and in the industry,” Jarrett said. “It’s great that students are prepared for this before they go to regional or corporate airlines or start flying cargo, so they can be set up to succeed in their professional careers.”
Develop the program, to meet the needs of the industry.
“It’s a great time to get into aviation, you know there’s such a need for pilots right now, not just pilots but all aviation professionals in the industry, so it’s It’s a great time to look into aviation programs, like the one here at South Dakota State University,” Jarrett said.
Preparing students for a smooth flight as they take off in their new career.
The new aircraft was introduced to student flight training this week after instructors were able to learn about how all the new technology works.