New rotorcraft bachelors program opens at USU

LOGAN – Aviation students at USU now have another option for becoming pilots. Through the Aviation Technology Professional Pilot Program students have already been able to learn how to fly an airplane and get a bachelor’s degree in aviation, but now an emphasis in flying helicopters is also available.

The new rotorcraft bachelors program only has four students enrolled in its first class, but USU academic advisor Kaylee Roholt said there will be more in the future.

“In the two years I’ve been advising we’ve had quite a few students call and say, ‘Do you have a helicopter program?’ And the answer has always been no,” Roholt said. “So it’s nice that we are going to be able to serve those students that are interested in the helicopter industry.”

Roholt said that after students graduate from the helicopter program they will have many different career options in many different fields including aerial firefighting, EMS, heli-skiing and jobs with the military.

USU will be teaming up with Mountain Ridge Helicopters, a helicopter flight school in Logan, to provide the training. Chad Carlston, recruiter and marketing director for Mountain Ridge Helicopters said that the students will be learning to fly by using Robinson R22 helicopters – smaller helicopters that are generally more difficult to fly. He compared learning to fly from an R22 to learning to drive automobiles from a small truck without power steering. Once the students are licensed and fly other helicopters, it will be a lot easier.

“Once you’ve graduated it will be like driving a Lamborghini,” he said.

Carlston said that learning to fly in Logan also gives the students a great advantage. Most helicopter schools are at sea level, but the added difficulties of learning to fly a helicopter at high altitudes will make the students better pilots.

“They are able to put that on their resumes and a lot of employers are looking for that high-altitude training,” Carlston said. “You are much more able to get employment with that as additional training.”

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