Thursday, February 18, 2016

LETU Participates in Exclusive "Top Hawk" Program

Yesterday was an exciting day for LeTourneau University Aviation as we welcomed the delivery of a brand new Cessna Skyhawk 172S airplane, on loan to us free of charge for the next several months as part of Cessna's "Top Hawk" program.

Cessna Aircraft Company, which is a subsidiary of Textron Aviation, selected LETU as one of only four schools across the nation to participate in its "Top Hawk" program.

Painted with stripes of blue and gold and bearing our LETU shield logo on its tail, this new aircraft will visit dozens of communities around the region over the next several months - introducing many to aviation careers AND to LeTourneau University.

Everyone's focus yesterday was on the plane (and it's a beauty!) but the day was really about the partnership between LETU and Cessna.

As the only comprehensive, university-level aviation program in Texas, many place LETU aviation among the best in the nation; and the new Skyhawk illustrates that Cessna agrees.

Selection for this Top Hawk program was done through Cessna's detailed evaluation of our flight training program. We've been using Cessna aircraft in our pilot training for 20 years!

Numerous LETU students have benefited from internships at Cessna, and a significant number of LETU graduates now work for Cessna in Wichita and around the United States.

One of our aviation students, Cameron Laramee, has been selected to represent LETU in the Top Hawk Instructor internship program offered by Cessna. Cameron will join Textron Aviation's internship program this summer, in cooperation with the Textron Aviation Employees Flying Club.

During his internship, he will get exposure to business operations, lead ground school classes, and continue to build his flight hours through flying lessons and discovery flights. You may remember that Cameron won the Top Pilot Award in the 2015 Region IV National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA SAFECON) flight competition. He graduates in May with a degree in Missions Aviation.

This brand new "Top Hawk" Cessna Skyhawk gives our students the most technologically advanced flight training platform available. Students and instructors using the Top Hawk Cessna aircraft will also benefit from the latest Camera technology - courtesy of Garmin, as well as the latest Bose noise canceling headsets, courtesy of Bose.

Dr. Lunsford and first flight winner Matthew Staley
At the celebration event yesterday, aviation students vied for the opportunity to get the first flight in the new aircraft. Mission Aviation junior Matthew Staley won the honors. He is just the first of many who will benefit from Cessna's award to us.

I want to thank our Dean of Aviation Fred Ritchey, our Director of Flight Operations Laura Laster and one of our aviation students, Cullen Hippler, for the excellent work they did to make it all happen. The LETU-Cessna partnership is something we can all celebrate.