Oct 11 2019
When I was 15 years old, I joined the Civil Air Patrol and sat in the left-hand seat of a little plane, and I thought to myself, ‘This is really exciting.’ This week, it was still really exciting as I visited the Delaware Airpark and flew in one of Delaware State University’s brand new airplanes, the Vulcanair V1.0. While there, I also had a chance to learn all about the school’s aviation program – the only one of its kind among Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the largest producer of pilots and aviation professionals of color in the country.
Before we took flight, I checked out DSU’s flight simulator and saw firsthand how these students prepare for flights both inside and outside of the classroom. Thanks to their hard work and guidance from their dedicated teachers, it’s no surprise that 100 percent of these DSU Hornets are flying right seat at an airline within 12 months of graduation. In fact, today, alumni are flying for every regional and major airline in the United States.
I couldn’t be prouder to see the next generation of aviators training right here in Dover. At a time when pilots are desperately needed in the industry, DSU’s aviation program is leading the way to provide students with the hands-on training needed to build their careers following graduation, and I hope DSU’s efforts will serve as a model for schools across the country.
As a congressman, Governor and now as a senator, I’ve been proud to work with my colleagues over the years to secure federal funding for the Delaware Airpark to ensure that the future of general aviation in the First State is a prosperous one. Since 2001, my colleagues in the Delaware Congressional Delegation and I have worked to secure over $32 million in federal funds for the Delaware Airpark. Those funds have helped to, among other things, build a new runway, make safety improvements to airport facilities and expand the airport to meet the current and future demand.
This year’s Delaware Higher Education Economic Development grant, which has helped expand DSU’s fleet, will continue that mission and is a great example of how we can come together at the state and federal level to produce a real win-win. As the Airpark expands, adds more jobs and attracts new clients to the area, our local economy – and the students of Delaware State University who are eager to take flight – will reap the benefits.
At DSU, we like to say “Hornets Rising.” Well, here at the Delaware Airpark, the Hornets are soaring! And with this new fleet, not even the sky’s the limit for these students.