UNK aviation program takes students to new heights

KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - For those who love to fly, UNK offers one of only two aviation programs in the state of Nebraska. Instructors said it is much more comprehensive than a typical airport training course.

“Number one is the whole collegiate experience is learning to think and being exposed to broad points of view so it opens your mind on how to solve problems,” Program Director Terry Gibbs said.

Students get up in the sky after only a month into classes. Many of the students who come to Kearney for the program have a great passion for flying.

“The sky is really beautiful. I like it, I love it,” UNK Graduate Jae Hyun Kim said. “When I fly in the air, everything is small but up there is only me so it's a really cool thing to do.”

Students who graduate often go into commercial flying or go into the management side. Professors said there are UNK pilots flying all over the world right now.

The program is small enough for instructors to have a personal connection with each student.

“Myself and the other faculty are involved with the students on day one and graduation day,” Gibbs said. “So every semester we are with every student. so you can see the growth, the progression, that type of thing.”

Nationally, there is a great demand for pilots and flight instructors. Many airlines have even increased wages and signing bonuses. With programs like UNK, there is hope to help meet the demands for pilots.