Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell is no longer offering flight instruction as part of its professional private pilot program, although flight training is offered in Roswell and students can still earn an ENMU-R degree as a pilot.
President Shawn Powell said that small enrollments and the December retirement of the school’s flight instructor are two of the major factors leading to the decision to discontinue flight instruction through the local campus itself.
He added, however, that students still can complete an associate’s degree as a private pilot with ENMU-R if they receive their Federal Aviation Administration pilot certificate with some other group.
“We are going to keep the degree program on the books,” he said, “so if they want to complete their flight training elsewhere, through the military or a civilian program, they are eligible then to complete the rest of the program here.”
The professional pilot training program was introduced in October 2017 with hopes that it not only would provide valuable career training to local students, but that it would be a first step in training people to fill the nation’s need for commercial pilots, given how many now are working with the military and that large numbers of commercial and cargo pilots are expected to reach retirement age in the coming years.
Powell said that ENMU-R staff worked diligently to recruit students but never had large enrollments. He estimated that fewer than 10 students have graduated with degrees since 2017.
The other factor, he said, is the difficulty of hiring a qualified instructor. Administrators knew that the current instructor planned to retire, and they recruited for a replacement. But they found that they could not pay enough in today’s job market to bring on board a qualified instructor with the “necessary expertise and experience.”
“If we had this situation five to 10 years ago, we probably would have had no difficulty in being able to afford to pay someone,” he said, “but now the regional airlines are paying much more than they used to and much more than we can.”
Although Powell did not recommend any specific way that students could receive flight instruction, it is offered in Roswell.
GoFastPilots LLC, run by Terry Haley, has been at the Roswell airfield since August 2017.
Haley, who has been a pilot since the 1970s, said that he has talked with ENMU-R staff about including ENMU-R students in his flight training classes.
He said that his company has two full-time instructors and that one of his student pilots is expected to become a flight instructor soon.
He said his company provides basic pilot training as well as the advanced programs for instrument ratings, commercial pilot licenses and flight instructor training. His company also rents out the airplane, a 180-horsepower Cessna 172.
Right now, training for a private pilot license requires at least 40 hours of flight time and costs about $13,000 to $15,000, Haley said. It is not covered by federal student financial aid at this time.
He said he has seven flight students now but thinks he will have no problem expanding to accommodate ENMU-R students as needed.
“We are excited about it,” Haley said. “Because (ENMU-R) has a flight simulator that we have access to, this provides us something more to offer our students and that can be used to help people gain in their abilities and professional development.”
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at email@example.com.