Record number of first-year students register for Minnesota State’s aviation program

In Minnesota’s only four-year aviation program, incoming students have a unique opportunity to learn from the best in the area.
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 10:48 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2022 at 10:50 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Aviation students packed into a hanger at the Mankato Regional Airport for orientation Wednesday evening.

“Still to this day it doesn’t get old, no matter how much I am up there. I am up there sometimes three times a day doing lessons, and it still has not gotten old, and I love that,” junior aviation student Braeden Lindsay said.

Around 170 wide-eyed freshmen are entering the aviation program at Minnesota State University, Mankato, which is the largest in history, and it comes during an unprecedented pilot shortage.

The post-COVID national pilot shortage has officials in the program thinking back to post 9/11, when there was another shortage. With every new year brings new chances for students to take to the skies.

“It rebounded so fast, there’s never been a better time to start this, so we think about that all the time, but that doesn’t change the way they train our students,” said Jeff Peterson, chair of the aviation program at MSU Mankato.

The four-year program begins with coursework and learning about things like professionalism and safety. Soon after work begins, students get in the cockpit and learn to fly with instructors before becoming instructors themselves.

First-year students are ready to get the year underway.

“I really hope that I can learn so much from this place because there’s so many people to teach me, especially so many higher-ups and upperclassmen, and my instructors, they will teach me so much about stuff I have no idea about,” first-year aviation student Arianna Moore said.

In Minnesota’s only four-year aviation program, incoming students have a unique opportunity to learn from the best in the area.

“It has just been awesome, you know, so many cool pilots here,” Lindsay said. “You know everyone has got a different path. It is always nice to study with someone else, get someone else’s perspective and learn about the different paths that maybe you never thought of.”