University launches aviation program


SFU rolled out a new academic offering this semester and it has taken flight, literally.

The new aviation concentration already has four students participating.

The program became possible thanks to a cooperative venture between SFU and Nulton Aviation Services, which is located at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport.

“The program was created mainly in response to growing demands in the aviation industry,” said Pete Skoner, Interim Dean of the School of STEAM.

“The University recognized the new opportunities the program would provide for students and worked with the airport authority to secure state funding to help launch the program and provide scholarships.”

The program is designed to take students with no previous flight experience and train them to professionally fly a single-engine, land-based aircraft in a variety of flight conditions.

After the completion of 40-50 flight hours, students will be able to obtain their private pilot license. This will allow them to legally fly an aircraft in clear conditions – with passengers – on their own.

The final goal, after a minimum of 100 flight hours, is securing a commercial pilot’s license.

Four SFU students, from four different majors, are already enrolled in the new program.

“The aviation concentration is attractive because it allows students to build a personalized portfolio of experiences while, at the same time, graduate college with in-demand skills,’’ said Skoner.

Sophomore Gabrielle Garritson added the aviation concentration to her criminal justice major. Her career goal is to become an air surveillance pilot for the FBI.

“There’s always something to be looking at, learning and experiencing,” said Garritson. “It feels so liberating when I’m in the air, controlling the aircraft.

“I absolutely love the program.”