Eastern Michigan University’s aviation program was put in the spotlight once again when three female students took to the skies for their first solo flights in early April.
Since the inception of the program in 2001, this is the first time two women have had their first solo flights on the same day and three of them within the same week.
This is testament to how much the aviation program has grown within the last nine years. Not only is it the largest collegiate flight school in the eastern Michigan and northwest Ohio region, but it is also the fastest-growing program in the Great Lakes region.
The women who made the record are Sydney DeMeere, Kym Mosher and Kaitlin Zies.
David Wanko, Director of Marketing and Recruitment said, “We’re a fairly young program, but our phenomenal growth in terms of the number of students enrolled and the kind of aircraft being used, is fast making this a competitive one.”
It’s uncommon for universities to have an aviation program. In fact on average, a state has two or three university aviation programs making EMU’s program one of them.
The program has 180 students enrolled at any given time, and some of its students come from New Jersey, Minnesota and Georgia.
“I visited the EMU campus as well as the Eagle Flight Center before I chose the program,” said Ryan Daugherty, a senior from Ohio.
Daugherty, three years into the program, believes he made the right decision.
“The staff and faculty are really good and their knowledge is expansive, the focus is on individuals rather than just mass-producing pilots and the whole environment is extremely personable,” he said.
The aviation program is based out of Eagle Flight Center at the Willow Run Airport located just seven miles from EMU’s main campus.
It offers bachelor’s of science degrees in aviation flight technology for those who are interested in becoming professional pilots and aviation management for those interested in the business side of aviation.
Classes in various aspects of aviation as well as some general education requirements are offered on the EMU campus.
Their fleet consists of 12 airplanes, 10 of which are Cessna Skyhawk 172 SP’s that are two to three years old – if not brand new. The aircrafts are equipped with technologically advanced Garmin G1000 glass cockpit avionics.
Zies is a sophomore double majoring in both programs.
“The atmosphere is amazing, because it’s people who are passionate and adore flying that are coming together to study what they love most,” she said.
“It’s like a close family and everyone is on a first-name basis with each other. The best part of the program is the excited energy that’s always present and the professors that are fully committed to quality education.”
Zies said she has always loved flying.
“I knew I loved flying, but I didn’t know how to go about pursuing it,” she said. “I joined EMU for its teaching program, but when I found out about EMU aviation, I applied to it immediately.”
Kyle Garris, a student services assistant at the Eagle Flight Center, said it’s not hard for interested students to join the program.
“The requirements are rather basic,” he said. “If you’re enrolled at Eastern Michigan University you can apply to our program.”
More information on the program can be found at www.emuaviation.com.