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Hesston College Aviation Piper Archer II

Aviation Campaign

women enrolled in Hesston College's aviation program
Women are enrolling in Hesston College’s aviation program at a higher rate than any time in the past. Pictured from left to right: Jessica Buckwalter, Yona, Guam; Alik Gillman, Gardner, Kan.; Gracie Hochstetler, Goshen, Ind.; and Ellie Yoder, Seattle, Wash.

Program Overview

The Aviation flight program was launched at Hesston College in 1970, and is now in its 49th academic year.

An Air Traffic Control option was added to the program in 2009, and in 2010 earned College Training Initiative (CTI) status from the FAA. Hesston’s Air Traffic Control program is one of 36 programs nationwide and the only program in the state of Kansas with FAA CTI status.

With the aviation industry facing a world-wide pilot shortage, Hesston College began working toward a bachelor’s degree in aviation-professional pilot to give students more advanced training and the ability to climb the professional ladder more quickly. In January 2019, Hesston College Aviation was granted approval from the accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), for the bachelor’s degree program, and launched it in August 2019.

Hesston College Aviation Today

As of the fall 2019 semester, Hesston College Aviation is flying with 47 students.

  • July 2018 – Hired Mike Baker ’93 as Director of Aviation. Mike has extensive experience in the aviation industry as a pilot and in manager roles with the FAA.
  • August 2018 – Welcomed 18 new students to the program, 10 more than the year prior.
  • November 2018 – Established first industry partnership with SkyWest Airlines in an effort to provide a variety of continuing education and career
    opportunities to students.
  • January 2019 – Welcomed eight new students with the start of the new semester.
    • Received approval from the HLC to launch a bachelor’s degree program for the 2019-20 year.
    • Completed Phase I of the Fleet Expansion Plan.
  • May 2019 – Completed Phase II of the Fleet Expansion Plan.
  • August 2019 – Made the first of three aircraft purchases in Phase III of the Fleet Expansion Plan.
    • Launched the Bachelor of Science in Aviation–Professional Pilot program with four juniors, and welcomed 15 new first-year students to the program.

Now Boarding: Fleet Expansion Plan

Hesston College Aviation fleet
Hesston College Aviation operates from its own hangar at the Newton City/County Airport, about 15 minutes from the main Hesston College campus.

Existing Fleet

Hesston College Aviation has an aging aircraft fleet that creates significant reliability issues, culminating in unnecessary scheduling and flight training delays. With a growing program and the addition of a four-year program, a standardized aircraft fleet is integral to that growth and continued retention of students.

The current fleet includes:

  • 2005 Cessna 172S, 2,330 total airframe hours
    Avionics: Garmin G1000 GPS, ADS-B, IFR, KAP 140 Autopilot
  • 1973 Cessna 172M, 11,000 total airframe hours
    Avionics: Garmin 430W GPS, ADS-B, IFR
  • 1971 Cessna 172L, 10,000 total airframe hours
    Avionics: Garmin 430W GPS, ADS-B, IFR
  • 1984 Piper PA-28-181 Archer II, 1,300 total airframe hours
    Avionics: Garmin GTN 650, dual Garmin G5s, ADS-B, IFR
  • 1976 Piper PA-28-181 Archer II, 3,500 total airframe hours
    Avionics: Garmin GTN 650, ADS-B, IFR
  • 1977 Piper PA-28-181 Archer II, 3,500 total airframe hours
    Avionics: Garmin GTN 650, ADS-B, IFR
  • 1963 Piper Twin Comanche PA-30, 6,900 total airframe hours
    Avionics: Garmin GTN 750, G5 ADAHRS, G5 HSI, ADS-B, IFR
  • Redbird MCX Advanced Training Device
    Avionics: G1000 GPS, IFR, GFC 700 Autopilot, Single engine and Multi-engine platform
Hesston College Aviation staff
Aviation faculty and staff

Aircraft Acquisition

A plan for aircraft acquisition and fleet modernization includes the purchase of five Piper PA-28-181 Archer II series aircraft. For the express purpose of program expansion, the purchase of these aircraft will initially increase the fleet to ten aircraft. The introduction of a standardized training platform will significantly increase student learning and overall aircraft reliability.

  • Phase 1 – Completed Jan. 2019
    Purchase of 1976 Piper PA-28-181 Archer II
  • Phase II – Completed May 2019
    Purchase of second aircraft – a 1977 Piper PA-28-181 Archer II
  • Phase III – Academic year 2019-20
    First of three purchases made August 2019
    Purchase of three Piper PA-28-181 Archer II aircraft installed with standardized avionics platforms – Garmin G500 or G600 glass-panel instrumentation system, Garmin GTN 650 or GTN 750 GPS, Garmin integrated auto-flight system; purchase one Piper twin or similar aircraft to replace the current 1963 Piper Twin Comanche.
    – Purchase of two FAA-approved AATD–FRASCA training devices.
  • Phase IV: Evaluation of current Cessna fleet – 2019-20
    Essential to establishing Hesston College Aviation as a formidable competitor within the collegiate aviation program market is the intentional investment into its current aircraft fleet, including upgrades to Piper Archers purchased in Phase I and II.
  • Phase V – beginning with 2019-20 year
    Establish and grow a robust endowment for aircraft renewal and maintenance.

Cost Breakdown

Aircraft purchase (6) . . . . . $1,090,000
Training devices (2) . . . . . $410,000
TOTAL . . . . . $1,500,000

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