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EKU and KCTCS aviation partnership taking off

WYMT reporter with EKU-A director Ralph Gibbs

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - "We're going to check our temperatures and check our levels before we head down the runway."

Some say you have to experience it to understand.

"It's the ultimate rush," said Eastern Kentucky University Director of Aviation Ralph Gibbs. "There is nothing more fun than flying."

Some Eastern Kentucky students can now take their classes in the clouds. Eastern Kentucky University's aviation program is partnering with Kentucky Community and Technical College System schools in Ashland, Owensboro, Middlesboro and Hazard.

"I think that our children and our young people end up having to leave in order to get this kind of training in areas that they love," said Jeannie Trumbo.

Not anymore.

"These students here, without leaving Hazard, can get their 1,000-hour, as I like to call it, restricted ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) authorization," said Gibbs.

"Here at the (Wendell H. Ford) airport, they were already offering flight classes and there was an opportunity to turn those into college credit," said University Center of the Mountains Director Deronda Mobelini, Ph.D.

Through EKU's aviation program, students start at one of the four partnering community colleges then transfer to EKU to complete the last two years of their degree online.

"When you have the airport that does such a great job and you have the community college and then EKU that brings the complete bachelor's degree it just makes it easier for students to be able to obtain these goals that they may not have been able to," said Trumbo.

"You'll be doing 100 miles per hour before you ever leave the ground," said Gibbs just after a second take-off in a series of touch-and-go circuits.

It's a lot more than 100 hours of training, ten times that, actually. Gibbs says if students aren't scared of the work, he tells them the truth.

"Bar none, it's the ultimate rush," he smiles.

If the program takes off, with about ten students enrolling each year, Gibbs says Kentucky could produce more 1000-hour pilots than any other state in the country.

Proving that the sky isn't anywhere close to the limit.

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Published on March 27, 2015

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