• How Baylor’s Institute for Air Science is preparing the next generation of pilots

    Did you know Baylor has an incredible aviation program? Or that its roots go back almost 30 years? Or that this fall, it’s introduced even more flight and training opportunities for future pilots?

    The Baylor Institute for Air Science is now partnering with Universal Flight Concepts for a new Baylor University Flight Center, located at the Waco Regional Airport. Universal Flight Concepts is one of the world’s largest flight training providers, and the partnership will further expand BU students’ real-world experience in such areas as airport management, aircraft accident investigation, aviation law, master flight instruction, commercial aviation, corporate aviation, military aviation and weather analysis and forecasting.

    “A lot of people came together to make this happen, but this is a great opportunity to benefit not only our students at the university, but also the nation with the huge pilot shortage we’re facing,” says Dr. Trey Cade, director of the Baylor Institute for Air Science, said at the grand opening of the new center. “Over the last few years, we’ve definitely seen an increased interest in aviation, from more students wanting to come to Baylor to study aviation.”

    At Baylor’s aviation program, students are immersed in the aviation environment and get truly hands-on instruction almost from day one. For example, the Baylor Lariat spoke with junior Vanessa Vargas, who has been flying planes since her freshman year.

    “I wanted to be a pilot since middle school,” Vargas said. “I was just this crazy, outgoing girl who told everyone, ‘I’m going to be a pilot.’ I didn’t know this was a degree — I was just looking more into the Air Force. It wasn’t until my mom did some research and she saw that colleges do have aviation, and then we saw Baylor.

    “I didn’t know I was going to be the pilot — it was my first flight. I didn’t know anything about airplanes. I just knew I wanted to fly. The instructor walked me through the process and it was just a fire hydrant of information… [Then] he said, ‘Alright, Vanessa, you can take off.’”

    Baylor’s Institute for Air Science was created in 1991 for research, public service and educating a new generation of pilots. In the same year, the institute initiated the Bachelor of Science in Aviation Sciences (B.S.A.) degree, with its first class graduating in 1995. Today, about 80 students are enrolled in the program, which offers both an aviation sciences major (with either a professional pilot concentration or aircraft dispatch concentration) and an aviation administration major. Courses include topics such as private pilot flight, advanced aviation, aircraft systems, aviation law and aerodynamics.

    Sic ’em, Baylor pilots!

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