DOVER, Del. (CBS) — The aviation program at Delaware State University is soaring to new heights. The school is celebrating the arrival of a new, modern fleet that will help train the next generation of aviators.
Delaware State University is celebrating its aircraft fleet expansion. The college boasts one of the leading aviation programs in the country and one very distinguished graduate couldn’t be more proud to see these new planes take flight.
“This is a new day of our program,’ instructor William Pickrum said.
It’s a new and exciting day for Delaware State University’s aviation program. Officials welcomed a new fleet of more modern and technologically advanced planes.
The first of 10 Vulcanair single-engine planes was delivered to the university.
“This aircraft will bring us to the forefront of aviation,” said retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael Hales, who serves as the program’s director.
“It’s an opportunity for students, especially for those of color, to get involved as professional aviators in our economy,” Pickrum said.
The elite aviation program at the historically black college has been in existence since 1998 and is at capacity with more and more students entering the field.
“A good man once told me, once you get in a plane and you push the black knob forward here to your first solo it’s going to open up, ” student Christian Black said. “I love it, it’s the best job on earth.”
“Since 1998, 100% of our graduates have gotten a job as a professional pilot within one year of graduation,” Pickrum said.
No one is more proud to see the new fleet than former Tuskegee airman and Delaware State University graduate Nathan Thomas.
“Men and women will be able to learn earlier and faster than we were before,” Thomas said.
The planes bear the historic red tails of the Tuskegee Airmen during their flights in World War II.
“I’m overwhelmed how we have gone in 2019 to see the advancement in all the technologies and everything this school of ours have been introduced to,” Thomas said.
Aviation officials with the university say there is a pilot shortage right now so they’re happy to have such a thriving program with continued interest from students around the country.