SDSU Aviation welcomes brand new aircraft to program

BROOKINGS, S.D.- South Dakota State University is the only school with a 4 year accredited aviation program in the state, and they just added a new aircraft to their fleet.

We got a brand new 2022 Cessna Skyhawk right from the factory,” says Cody Christensen, an Associate Professor of Aviation at SDSU. “We had our student and our manager able to go pick it up, and see it from basically zero flight time. What we’ll be using it for in our school is one of our flight training airplanes for our primary students in our advanced students.”

SDSU Cessna Skyhawk Jarrett, a graduate student and assistant in the program, flew the plane to Brookings.

“It’s a great trainer, honestly,” Jarrett says. “They’re very stable, so a lot of people, you know, are nervous getting into a small aircraft for the first time. But that is something that is  amazing about these aircraft. They’re truly very resilient and they’re very stable aircraft, which makes them great trainers to learn in.”

Plus, new technology has added efficiency.

“I would say that they are pretty efficient,” Jarrett adds. “They hold 53 gallons usable in them and they burn about ten gallons per hour, give or take. Of course, there’s other factors that you want to include in that. As far as you know, how much fuel you’re actually burning, you know, the time to start up and taxi and all those kind of fun things as well. But yeah, they’ll get you pretty far.”

SDSU applied for a grant for the plane, explaining exactly what the aircraft would be used for.

“Essentially we work to create an application and a video of how we would utilize the airplane and how we would best use the resources,” Christensen explains. “So what Cessna allowed us to is, is we get six months of free lease on it. And then after that, with the option of buy, we really hope to continue it in our fleet.”

With a rapidly expanding aviation program, professors say the new addition was crucial to supporting the growing numbers of students and instructors.

We also are the largest flight school with some of the best aircraft that you can get in the state. Additionally, I think that we have a hometown field and we’re well versed for the conditions in South Dakota,” Christensen says.

Plus, learning to fly in South Dakota prepares student pilots for plenty of different weather conditions.

The weather in South Dakota is challenging, to say the least. There’s always a lot of wind. So one thing that you can really get is that any student that comes to South Dakota State, as an aviation program is going to get really good at crosswind landings and be really proficient in aircraft control,” adds Christensen.

The Skyhawk provides a stable learning environment, but also helps expose students to the technological features that they’ll encounter in their careers.

“It’s got advanced avionics in it,” Jarrett concludes. “It’s a technologically advanced aircraft, which will be a huge advantage for our students, not just right now, but going into the workforce and being prepared heading into the airlines in the future.”

Categories: Connect With Us – Segments, Evergreen, South Dakota News