DSU receives $3.4 million grant to expand Aviation Program

DOVER, Del. – An aviation program in the first state is on the rise again, as they’ve gotten their hands on a $3.4 million dollar grant from the Delaware Higher Education Economic Development to help take their program to new heights.

Michael Hales, the Director of Aviation Program says, “So, that money is directly going to pay for 11 new aircrafts for our aviation program here. It’s a new aircraft in the aviation training market, we’re the first university to purchase them and use them for flight training.”

Their aviation program, the only one of its kind among historically black colleges and universities, is ready to take off with their new aircraft fleet.

It was a long time coming, since the equipment they’ve used are the same exact ones from when the program re-started in 1986.

This grant comes at a time when there’s a need for more pilots and aviation professionals.

“Right now there is a huge shortage of aviation professionals, pilots in the airlines. There is this huge number of senior pilots who have reached the mandatory age of 65 and will have to retire,” Hales says.

Another reason, flight training is expensive. But aside from the lack of pilots, there’s also a lack of minorities.

Hales tells us, “The aviation field has traditionally dominated by males. Even smaller than that is African American females for instance.”
A former student and a current flight instructor, Shavana Jones even says, “Because when I came freshman year I believe I was as far pilot side I was about 4 or 5 not that many we’re definitely trying to see more of an influx of females.”

But with a grant like this, they have the opportunity to land new prospects.

They will get three new aircrafts in April and the last one in September.

Growing their aviation program also means growing their hangar space, so between construction and new positions for mechanics and flight instructors, the university hopes to create hundreds of new jobs in the Kent County area.

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