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EKU Aviation Students Earn Prestigious Corporate Internship

l-r: Horace Hunter and Sam Elliott with the Ward/Kraft corporate jet

The sky is the limit for two Eastern Kentucky University Aviation students, Sam Elliott and Horace Hunter. Both were granted internships with Ward/Kraft Inc. Ward/Kraft, Inc. is a nationally known leader in the design and production of labels, plastics, Commercial print, mailers and Business documents including continuous, unit set, cut sheet, labels and form/label combinations.  

Based out of Fort Scott, Kansas, Horace and Sam have established their professional routines. Sam explains, “We provide transportation for our parent company and its divisions. Basically they have locations all around the country that they need to go to meet with customers; they tell us when and where to be and we get them there. As interns we serve as co-pilots for all the flights; consisting of everything from helping with loading the bags, to servicing the aircraft, to cleaning the wings.  In flight we function as part of the flight crew; running checklists, operating radios, and when appropriate flying the aircraft.”

Sam and Horace in the Ward Kraft corporate jet cockpitHe continues, “We operate a Learjet and are currently acquiring another twin-engine turbine aircraft. We can fly from Kansas to the east coast in about 2 hours, and normally we have four to five trips a week. Our day trips include a 5:30 am wake up to have everything ready for the passengers, wheels up at around 7am. While the sales reps are in their meetings we typically attempt to assist with company sales while other times we have things to do with the aircraft while we wait. Our parent company is big on getting their employees home every night, so typically we fly a return leg back to Fort Scott each evening once business is concluded. Some trips include an overnight stay, allowing us the option of exploring the great cities of America. Personally I have been to Phoenix, Las Vegas, Louisiana, Georgia, New York, and Chicago just to name a few.”

Horace adds about the experience, “The biggest thing that I have taken away from this internship, is the importance of professionalism and being personable in all respects. Aside from technical flying responsibilities, we are also tasked with interacting with the many people behind the scenes that make what we do possible. Flying and technical knowledge become second-nature when used in a practical sense.”

The EKU program’s professional flight option is the only FAA-approved university flight program in Kentucky. Students who earn their degree in professional flight attain FAA certification as a private pilot, commercial pilot, an instrument rating, certified flight instructor-instrument and multi-engine ratings. Before graduation, they will log 250-300 flight hours via Central Kentucky Regional Airport, now managed by EKU.

Sam has attained his degree from Eastern and served a semester as a flight instructor, while Horace, a senior, has experienced different types of flight training in his course work at EKU.  “Without this opportunity, my options after graduation would have been much more limited. The internship has instilled priceless and practical insight as to how the business aviation industry operates on a daily basis. The real-life responsibility placed on our shoulders every day is something that can't be provided in a classroom, and has opened our eyes to how important these academic applications are. EKU and its aviation program have done an outstanding job in ensuring that its students have the necessary resources to venture out into the workforce as successful aviators and leaders that will have the competitive edge over their counterparts.”

Sam concurs. “For my career, this internship has me poised to take my first real steps in the corporate aviation world. The experience here is impossible to value because it can lead to almost anything I want to do; instead of hundreds of hours of teaching, I am able to supplement with real-world jet experience. If I can find an operation like the one I am in now, I will take that opportunity in a heartbeat.”

Horace will be pursuing another internship beginning in May with Textron, parent company of the well-known Cessna aircraft brand. “This one,” Hunter said, “will deal with many important executive figures and other interns.” Hunter will serve as a ground instructor teaching flight principles, and provide flight instruction and discovery flights.

Sam has been asked to continue his placement with Ward/Kraft Inc. until August 2017.

For more information on Aviation at Eastern Kentucky University, visit

Published on April 13, 2017

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