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Cleared for Takeoff: Marshall University Opens Flight School at Yeager Airport

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – What started as an idea in 2017 for Marshall University to open an aviation school at Yeager Airport in Charleston is now a reality.

Under mostly sunny skies Tuesday morning, Marshall University's Bill Noe School of Flight was cleared for takeoff during a groundbreaking ceremony from the facility on Eagle Mountain Road, just past the Capital Jet Center. Marshall has a classroom building and a 12,000-square-foot hangar on site.

“This is a great day for Marshall University, the community, the region, the state and the aviation region as a whole. "This is going to be a significant force multiplier when it comes to flight training in our nation," Bill Noe, an aviation specialist with the school's flight school and the same name, told the media after of the ceremony.

Bill Noe

Flight school is scheduled to open for this upcoming fall semester, which begins Monday, August 23. Students will earn a Bachelor of Science major in Commercial Pilot – Fixed Wing. Two Marshall brand Cirrus SR20 aircraft were sitting in the hangar ready to be used in the program.

The aviation maintenance program, A.A.S. you will be staying at Huntington Tri-State Airport in conjunction with Mountwest Community and Technical College. The program is expected to be available in the spring.

The university has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to start a Part 141 pilot school. Its ground and flight courses will lead to a series of FAA certifications and prepare graduates to become pilots. single-engine and multi-engine commercial aircraft, according to a statement.

During the ceremony, Marshall President Jerome Gilbert said that the school's inauguration is one of the university's most important programs in the past three decades.

Noe, who is a Marshall Hall of Fame swimmer, pilot, and accomplished business executive, as well as a Huntington Native, said the academic opportunities are exceptional.

“You can finish this school not only with your private engine, but also with your flight instructor, multi-engine, instrumental, commercial, multi-commercial and flight instructor certificates. Ultimately, the flight instructors that we train here and certify can come back and be flight instructors for us, ”he said.

Evan McCallister, a recent high school graduate from Scottown, Ohio and one of 20 students in the inaugural class, was in attendance for the ceremony and hopes to earn those certificates and a bachelor's degree. He told MetroNews that he has big dreams about the opportunities that lie ahead.

“Once I get out of the program, I will probably start as a flight instructor. Ultimately, I would like to become a pilot for a bigger airline, maybe cargo, ”he said.

McCallister said that after graduating he planned to join the Air Force, but heard that Marshall opened the school. He hopes to graduate with more than 200 flight hours

“It's really exciting. Although I am really more nervous. It's just that I've never had this kind of opportunity before, ”McCallister said.

Noe, who is the COO of NetJets, a Columbus, Ohio-based company geared toward meeting the needs of private air travel, said students like McCallister will get a lot of variables in training that are not seen in other states such as California, Florida or Texas.

"The benefit of training in this region is that not only do you have to deal with low level fog at times, the weather doesn't have a lot of visibility, but you will have to deal with the Appalachian Mountains and be able to deal with that," said Noe. .

Noe said there is a great opportunity in aviation today with the need for pilots in the military world, airlines, business jet and flight instructors. Pilot shortages have been reported across the country in 2021, leading to flight cancellations.

Marshall said in a statement: “The school will help meet the nation's significant projected need for commercial pilots over the next 20 years. "When fully operational, Bill Noe Flight School is expected to enroll over 200 students and produce about 50 commercial pilots a year.

The project for the flight school dates back four years when Marshall administrators began discussing options. In May 2018, Marshall and Yeager Airport signed a memorandum of understanding to study an aviation school. Marshall announced several degrees in aviation in June 2019, prior to the signing of an aerospace industry partnership pact with state officials in August 2019.

In February 2020, Marshall purchased or three aircraft, including two Cirrus SR-20s valued at $ 500,000 each. and a used single-engine aircraft with cable controls priced up to $ 175,000. The ground was broken on the flight school construction in August 2020, almost a year to date since Tuesday.

Noe was excited when asked what the day meant to him. He said he had many big aviation dreams as a child, but one he didn't know came true on Tuesday.

“Being a student at Marshall University, growing up in Huntington West Virginia, that's why he went to Marshall. Having this today (Tuesday) is humiliating and difficult to put into words ”, he said.

Gilbert, Noe, Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission Gayle Conelly Manchin, Mayor of Charleston Amy Goodwin, Mayor of Huntington Steve Williams

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