University Aircraft Now Features EKU Paint/Logo Scheme

photo of student Marty Dye with EKU plane

No, Eastern Kentucky University has not established its own air force, but the university’s rapidly expanding Aviation Program has taken a leap in visibility with the first of many airplanes bearing an EKU design and color scheme.

Earlier this fall, EKU aviation student Marty Dye flew the first of the newly painted aircraft from Tulsa, Okla., to Richmond’s Madison Airport, where the university’s Aviation Program is based. By next summer, the university’s fleet bearing EKU marks is expected to total 12 single-engine aircraft and possibly as many as three twin-engine planes.

The EKU-branded planes “will give our students a sense of identification with the program,” said Chief Flight Instructor Ralph Gibbs. “Using aircraft with the new paint scheme, new interior and standard configuration we negotiated with Christiansen Aviation (of Tulsa) conveys a real sense of a modernized aircraft fleet.

“This will give students and parents the feeling that they have chosen a very professional aviation program,” Gibbs added. “Without EKU logos and paint schemes, we would look much like any non-university flight school.” Now, “whenever we fly to other airports on our training missions, the aircraft paint scheme provides an excellent advertisement for both EKU and the aviation program – in short, free advertising.”

Having completed his private and instrument pilot ratings, Dye is currently working on his commercial pilot rating. His delivery flight was scheduled to coincide with a commercial pilot training mission – he received dual instruction on commercial flight operations on the day before his solo Tulsa-to-Richmond flight in the newly painted plane.

“In my past three years as a student I have witnessed many changes and improvements in the program,” said Dye. “I believe that we are moving in the right direction.”

Dye, who plans to be an airline pilot and fly part-time with the Air National Guard, added that it was an “honor and privilege” to fly the first EKU-branded aircraft as well as “a great learning experience toward my commercial training.”

Gibbs said the EKU program will “always attempt to combine aircraft ferrying with real-time student training requirements.”

The plane Dye flew to Richmond was showcased in a formation fly-by at EKU’s Homecoming in October, and Gibbs said the program hopes to display the “painted bird(s)” at many future university sporting events.

With more than 90 students currently flying at EKU (among the approximately 150 enrolled in the professional flight option), “we need a total of nine aircraft, one for every ten students, plus three spares for maintenance,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs came to EKU this fall after logging four decades of military and aviation education experience. The move coincided with EKU becoming the fixed-base operator at the recently improved Madison Airport a few miles south of the Richmond campus.

Eastern’s Aviation Program, which offers the only four-year, university-based aviation degree in Kentucky, comprises the two degree paths: aerospace management and professional flight. Gibbs will oversee the professional pilot option, in which students receive flight certification in Private Pilot, Instrument, Commercial, Flight Instructor, CFII, and Multi-Engine. In addition, they experience real world flight operations, actual weather, long-range flights, and mountain operations.

The professional flight option has seen its number of majors jump from 64 in 2009 to 103 this fall.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects employment of aircraft pilots to increase by as much as 10 percent through 2014. “You cannot get a pilot job with an airline without a bachelor’s degree,” Gibbs noted. “EKU is a prestigious educational institution, so anyone who graduates from our Professional Flight program and has a single-engine rating and additional multi-engine time goes to the top of a resume stack when applying for a job.”

For more information about EKU’s Aviation Program, visit aviation.eku.edu or call 859-622-1014.

Published on November 28, 2011