Phoenix pilot training center takes ASU students under its wing with new partnership

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – For over 20 years, thousands of people have walked into AeroGuard training centers in Arizona and flown out as pilots. Now it’s offering the same career path for Arizona State University students enrolled in the BS in Aeronautical Management Technology degree program.

It’s a career in high demand. “The need for the next 20 years is going to be more than 600,000 pilots,” said James Constable, the Chief Marketing Officer.

It’s a need constable hopes to help fill with the new ASU partnership. While students work on earning their degrees, they’ll be clocking in the 1,000 flight hours required before joining an airline. “I think it’s really fun and it’s cool. There’s not many people that can say it’s their job or it’s their school to go flying up in the sky,” said Constable.

The training center has been operating an accelerator program for non-college students, where 1,500 flight hours are required before being employed by a commercial airline. That path typically takes two and a half years, according to Constable.

It’s the path Hunter Cotton started right before the pandemic with zero flying experience like ASU students will. He spent a lot of time learning in a flight simulator before hitting the skies. “It’s super helpful for procedural stuff, especially cause it has all the switches and knobs. It’s got side views out the windows here so you can see what you’re doing here,” said Cotton.

Cotton is now an instructor, soon to be an airline pilot. He’s completed hundreds of hours while Logan Luke, a new student, is just getting started. They flew their first plan a few weeks into training.

It’s an experience they’re excited about for ASU students with zero experience to have. “That feeling that you get is what keeps pushing me to continue. It’s just kind of like a surreal feeling that this is going to be our job, and this is what we’ll be doing for the rest of our lives–like we’re just flying planes,” said Luke.

Derek Winkelhaus, a student working to become an instructor at the training center, said instructors make sure everyone is ready to hit the skies. “I really personally like the level to the attention to detail that the instructors give students. So if anyone is struggling with anything, they’ll put in the extra effort to make sure that we understand what’s going on,” said Winkelhaus.

AeroGuard is set to start training ASU students this coming spring semester at Deer Valley and Chandler Municipal Airports.

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