OTTUMWA — The Indian Hills Aviation Pilot Training Program is really taking off.
Wednesday morning, eight students enrolled in the Airline Career Training (ACT) Program received a conditional employment agreement with SkyWest Airlines after they finish their Associate of Applied Science degree.
This means that as long as students complete their program, with enough hours and flight experience, they will automatically be offered a position as a first officer at the airlines, based in San Diego, California.
“It’s basically like a gift card,” said Darren Graham, director of aviation programs and chief flight instructor at Indian Hills. “We give this to them as they go through training, and they don’t have to use it if they don’t want to, but it’s a great for students, and many are focused on going there right after the program.”
The applicants have had lots of training and interview practice up to this point. On Saturday, recruiters from SkyWest conducted interviews with the potential students. They awarded conditional job offers to students with outstanding interviews, high test scores and other criteria.
Graham believes this partnership with SkyWest is extremely valuable.
“We hope this program will attract new students to the industry; just like in any field, students go through all of the training then get experience, but when it’s time to interview, 50 percent don’t get hired,” said Graham. “We want to change that.”
This is the first year that the ACT program has been on the Indian Hills campus. ACT started a year prior via the Coast Flight Training in San Diego.
Graham thinks this program will bring a new sense of professionalism to the aviation program.
“This will raise the bar for our program — it’ll bring a whole new level of professionalism and safety — students are not only representing themselves and Indian Hills but they will be a representative of SkyWest Airlines and the ACT program,” said Graham.
Thatcher Carel, Kasey Murphy, Luis Zelaya, Brennan Parker, Levi Riddick, Aaron Riche, Tim Menninga and Robert Dodd were all conditionally given offers through the program.
Indian Hills flight instructor Michael O’Connor was conditionally accepted into the SkyWest Bridge program. The purpose of this program is to help bridge the gap between completion of CFI certification and building the minimum ATP qualifications as a pilot at SkyWest Airlines.
The SkyWest aircraft participants will fly 65-80 people. For more information on the ACT program, contact Graham at 641-683-4254.