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U of OK Adds Aircraft to Training Fleet

University of OK Adds Advanced Aircraft and Helicopters to Training Fleet

The University of Oklahoma celebrated a significant expansion in its aviation training capabilities with the introduction of eleven new aircraft to its School of Aviation. This event, which took place on Friday at OU's Max Westheimer Airport, featured the arrival of the school's first two helicopters and nine Piper single-engine airplanes.

OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. highlighted the importance of the new additions, stating, "Welcoming these new aircraft today marks a significant milestone that serves as a tangible illustration of OU's longstanding commitment to strategically align with our state's workforce needs."

The new aircraft are expected to significantly boost the training capacity at the School of Aviation, advancing OU's goal of expanding its fleet to 28 aircraft. These additions are particularly notable as the new airplanes are classified by the FAA as 'Technically Advanced Aircraft.' They feature the latest in aviation technology, including moving map GPS, glass cockpit avionics, automated engine and systems management, and an autopilot system. Moreover, these planes are equipped with more powerful and fuel-efficient engines that will lower operating costs, enhancing the sustainability of the program.

Eric Wydra, director of the School of Aviation, emphasized the technical advancements of the new fleet, explaining that these features are crucial for training students under both visual and instrument flight rules.

In addition to the airplanes, the two new helicopters mark the launch of OU's fixed-wing helicopter aviation program, aimed at addressing the critical shortage of qualified helicopter pilots. The program, set to begin enrollment in Fall 2024, is a strategic response to the specific needs of the aviation workforce.

The Fly-In event also included a "Meet the Fleet" showcase organized by the OU Foundation, which drew over 350 alumni and friends, further demonstrating the community's support for the university's aviation initiatives. The recent addition to the fleet was supported by significant funding, including an anonymous donation of over $1 million last year for a new hangar to house these aircraft, along with 19 scholarships for aviation students. This investment in infrastructure and education at OU reflects a robust commitment to fostering the next generation of aviation professionals.

FMI: https://www.ou.edu/ags/aviation


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