Photo provided by Hanna Frank: Frank Dubois, Director of Aviation and Transportation, utilizes the model airplanes in his office to explain to inquiring students how a plane flies and the curriculum taught in aviation theory classes.
Hanna Frank and Shelby Ray, Contributors
Boeing’s forecast for an increase of 25,000 new pilots annually comes as good news considering Lewis University’s flight management degree is the largest major in the aviation department.
Frank DuBois, the Director of Aviation and Transportation, says the reason for so many students in the major isn’t because it’s easy, it’s because they are passionate and committed to many hours of training and learning.
“It’s more than just flying, the students fly three days a week, but they also have to take theory classes,” says DuBois.
According to Lewis’ description of the program, aviation flight management is a bachelor’s degree for those who want to fly commercial airplanes.
DuBois compared the process to getting a driver’s license; students need to obtain five different licenses in order to become a commercial pilot.
Jared Hunt, a graduate of flight management and a first officer for Trans States Airlines explained that Lewis’ program has helped him succeed after college.
“I wanted a degree that would give me a competitive edge in the aviation industry so with the classes and the studies, the flight management program gives you a lot of tools that you can use once you go into the aviation field,“ said Hunt.
Flight management has grown considerably over the past seven years. Previously the entire aviation department only had 200 students, and now the flight management degree alone has approximately 200.
One of the highlights of the program is that new students get to fly the first week of classes. The task of getting the flight time is considerable easy because Lewis has 25 planes in their fleet that are at the students disposable. Some graduates see success with the program after completion of the degree.
Despite a curriculum with a heavy workload, like DuBois said, students are passionate about the field.
Nathan Bennett-Swanson, a junior flight management student, has had a lifelong dream to become a commercial pilot. “I’ve always wanted to be a pilot so that really was the only major for me. Flying is the only thing I ever really wanted to do,” said Bennett-Swanson.
In addition to class time and flight training, students are given the opportunity to be involved in aviation related recreation groups, like Lewis’ flight team. This particular extra-curricular activity is a competitive team where students compete with other aviation schools in the region. Flight team members take part in the annual SAFECON event where they compete in flight and ground events.
“Lewis’ flight team always goes to nationals, and since I’ve been here they have taken tenth place or better, usually placing in the top eight,” said DuBois.
The flight team has placed as high as first in their region and fifth in the nation in recent years, according to Lewis’ records.