SALINA – AJ Moretina decided he wanted to learn to fly airplanes after watching a TV show about airplane crashes.
“My dad always used to watch ‘Aircraft Investigations’ and I always watched with him,” he said.
It was ironic, he said, but he remembered thinking it was cool that things as big as airplanes could fly.
“Then I was like – you know what?” Maybe I’ll be a pilot, ”said Moretina.
Moretina is a freshman in the Professional Pilot Program at the Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus at Kansas State University and flies about three times a week. When he made his first solo flight he thought he would be nervous, but the experience of the airplane helped.
“It’s enough time to really feel it, to be able to trust yourself,” he said. “But once you’re really solo, I can sort of fall back on that practice.”
Students enrolled in the professional pilot program train for at least 190 hours for their baccalaureate. And with the new year, students will have new planes to train on. After receiving a donation, K-State Salina bought 17 new planes, five of which are Cirrus Aircraft SR20 trainers.
the Cirrus planes are “Very nice planes too,” Moretina said. “Plus, it will be really nice to have the air conditioning instead of just having to open a window. “
One of the Cirrus planes arrived at the K-State Salina campus on Monday. The rest are expected to be delivered later in 2022. Venus Thanasouk, a second-year commercial pilot program student at K-State Salina, said the Cirrus planes will provide students with more technology inside the cockpit.
It is “important that students learn about constantly changing technology, and this will help them advance their careers,” Thanasouk noted. “Because if they always keep up to date with current technology, especially inside the cockpit, it would be an easy transition further in their career as they are already familiar with the new technology. “
John Razmus, director of Fleet Sales Americas at Cirrus Aircraft, said teaching more advanced skills earlier – a concept known as “downloading” – could benefit airlines, which are struggling to hire.
“It does, however, require a training platform that (activates) the concept of downloading,” Razmus said. “This is where Cirrus planes really shine. With advanced aerodynamics, performance capabilities, advanced avionics and a host of safety features, the Cirrus aircraft offers the most rugged path between a student’s first flight in the right seat as a first officer.
The addition of the Cirrus aircraft will also allow K-State Salina to reduce the cost of training in its program, said Alysia Starkey, CEO of K-State Salina.
Cirrus are low-wing planes, which means students must climb on their wings to enter. In the past, K-State Salina only had high-winged planes, Starkey said.
“We spent a lot of time with the students, our faculty and our staff trying to figure out what we wanted in a fleet refresh,” she said. “And the first thing the students came back with was that they wanted a mix of experience in high and low wing planes.”
K-State Salina also purchased 10 new Cessna 172 Skyhawks and two new Beechcraft Baron G58s. The Cessnas will be delivered in 2022, but the Barons have already arrived.
“The 172s are just really reliable planes for primary training because students are starting to learn how to fly a plane – they can take a beating and keep going,” Starkey said. “So they’re really great for primary coaches. “
Barons, like Cirrus planes, are low-winged. They are used for more complex training. The complex aircraft weather sets the K-State Salina program apart, Starkey said.
“It’s just another element that we think is very important in preparing our students for the industry,” she said. “So we can reduce the time that airlines or other business aviation partners have to spend … training pilots for these more complex aircraft – we do it while they’re here, and that … Directly helps them benefit employers from the moment they arrive. on the market.
In addition to the physical plane, Thanasouk said K-State Salina has flight simulators that allow students to learn despite inclement weather.
“This is mainly what is important to me, will the training I do on the plane help me in the future?” Will I be familiar so that I don’t have to constantly learn new things? »Thanasouk said. “I want to be able to master what I can now and develop it later in my career.”
Moretina said he would one day want to fly internationally for a major airline. Thanasouk wants to reach 1000 flight hours and hopes to carry freight in the future.
“I eventually want to work for FedEx or UPS,” Thanasouk said.
Aviation and pilot industry workers are in high demand, Starkey said, and students can go wherever they want.
“Most of our students currently choose to go to airlines simply because of the partnership channels and reimbursement packages they offer to students,” Starkey said. “But there is a huge need, not just in airlines – in logistics, in freight, in business aviation. They can really take their pick and do whatever they want.