MADISONVILLE, Ky.—Madisonville Community College has officially announced the launch of a new aviation program giving students the opportunity to become a professional pilot through fixed-wing (airplane) or helicopter options.
“This is the first flight training program in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System,” said President Dr. Cindy Kelley. “We have been able to make it to this point with strong community support, the work of the Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation, and the leadership of the City of Madisonville.”
As students advance through the program, they will be able to earn embedded academic certificates and important ratings from the Federal Aviation Administration for private pilot, instrument pilot, commercial pilot and as certified flight instructors for both fixed wing and helicopters.
The City of Madisonville and Madisonville Regional Airport leadership have been instrumental in planning and renovating the existing hangar space for the program.
“Bringing this program to Madisonville has been the work of many hands,” Mayor Kevin Cotton said. “I am so appreciative of each individual and organization that played a role in making this happen. This program is an excellent opportunity for Madisonville and one that sets us apart from other communities. I’m excited to see the growth and opportunities this program will provide and how it continues to grow and evolve in Madisonville.”
Also important in preparations for bringing the program to our region has been the Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corp. The EDC has been working closely with MCC since the beginning of the project.
“We have always believed this program not only creates its own economic impact but sets the stage for so much more aerospace activity throughout the community and the region,” EDC President Ray Hagerman said.
Initially, helicopter flight training will be conducted at the Madisonville Regional Airport and the fixed-wing training will be offered at the Muhlenberg County Airport. The college anticipates that both airports will be used to accommodate both programs in some capacity in the future. Once the program begins the flight training in the coming weeks, traffic at the airports will increase significantly.
To conduct the flight training, the college has recently leased two Schweizer S300 helicopters from U.S. Aviation Training Solutions (USATS) and a Cessna 172 airplane with a Garmin G1000 glass panel from Don Davis Aviation. Students will also have access to state-of-the-art, full-motion Redbird flight simulators which are housed at both campus locations. The simulators provide students opportunities to safely learn in a simulated environment in which instructors can create hazardous weather conditions, severe turbulence, equipment malfunctions, and other problems students must solve in the air.
According to a recent report released by Boeing, the aviation industry and jobs for pilots are poised for a rebound in the coming months. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, openings for airline and commercial pilots are expected to grow faster than average. The median annual wage for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers was $147,220 in May 2019. In order to help students meet the required total hours for employment with a major airline or cargo carrier, graduates of the program may be able to continue with the college as flight instructors to help earn those flight hours.
Applications are currently being accepted for the program. Interested students can contact aviation program coordinator Mike Kehoe for more information at (270) 824-1806 or [email protected].