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K-State Today

December 2, 2011

Chopper power: Partnership with universal helicopters enhances flight training at K-State Salina

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Helicopter flight training at Kansas State University is getting a boost through a partnership with Universal Helicopters.

"The partnership initially will bring in three helicopters and four full-time flight instructors, which allows us to better meet the flight-training demands of our students," said Kurt Barnhart, head of K-State's aviation department.

The incoming fleet consists of two Robinson R22 Beta IIs and one Robinson R44 Raven II. K-State students will start flying in the aircraft when the spring 2012 semester begins in January, and will be able to earn all of their ratings and certifications in a helicopter, if they so choose.

"These are extremely safe and reliable helicopters," said Gordon Jiroux, president of Universal Helicopters. "That translates into a more productive flight training environment because students aren't waiting for the aircraft to be repaired."

"This is an excellent time to come to Kansas State Salina. We are expanding course offerings and increasing opportunities in our classrooms and cockpits," Barnhart said. "This is also a great opportunity for veterans wanting to use the GI Bill to pursue a career in helicopter aviation."

"Having a four-year degree from Kansas State University with an emphasis on helicopter training will really set graduates of this program apart from their competition in the job market," Jiroux said.

Universal Helicopters has been supporting collegiate helicopter flight programs since 2002. They currently provide helicopter flight training for Embry Riddle's Prescott, Ariz., campus and Dodge City Community College. This partnership is the company's fifth location and brings its collegiate flight program fleet to a total of 25 helicopters.

Kansas State University Salina offers a bachelor's degree in professional pilot, which can be earned in airplanes or helicopters. The campus offers five other aviation-based bachelor's degrees: aircraft maintenance, air traffic control, airport management, avionics technology and unmanned aircraft systems. More information is available at http://www.salina.k-state.edu.