Southeast Missouri State University student publication

The planes are here: SEMO unveils aircrafts for new pilot program

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

After waiting for 8 months, the pilot program coming to students this fall gained a key component to its courses: the airplanes. On Aug. 21, students, faculty and local politicians such as Senator Holly Rehder and State Representative Wayne Wallingford gathered for the unveiling of Southeast’s new aircrafts.

The unveiling of the planes was a fulfilment of a dream for Southeast University President Carlos Vargas.

“It really represents a dream come true for me, because I’ve had this interest in developing a program like this for a long time, and to come to this university and find that people were so receptive was literally almost a dream — I couldn’t believe it,” Vargas said.

Photo by Ciara Potter

Many people in attendance said they felt excitement about the event. Chair of Engineering and Technology Brad Deken said it was great to see all the new faces at the event.

“It's really nice to see how excited our new students are about it — we've had a wonderful turnout here,” Deken said. “They're excited to see what's happening here at the airport, and they're excited to see the airplanes.”

The program was one of the latest additions to SEMO’s curriculum, but the public had not seen the planes in person until the event. BFA Dance and Professional Pilot Major Gabrielle Berger said it was “pretty cool” to finally see the planes and meet pilots her own age.

Photo by Ciara Potter

“I'm looking forward to meeting other aviators my age because I've flown before, at an airport at home, but they're all older people like adults, so it's nice to meet people my age that are also interested in flying,” Berger said.

Many aspiring pilots were in attendance at the event. Engineering and Technology Instructor Miranda Sullivan said the students in the program get in the air as early as the first day.

“[Students] actually get to start flying about the first day of class, so they meet with their instructor, they come up with a game plan, and they'll get in the air pretty quickly,” Sullivan said.

Photo by Ciara Potter

For more information about the professional pilot program, visit their webpage.