By Cassandra Semyon, WBOC
Delaware State University and United Airlines announced their partnership today for the airlines Aviate program, making DSU the first historically black college to be a part of the pilot training program.
The announcement, made at the Delaware Air Park where over 100 DSU students are already partaking in flight training, was not only historic, but exciting for young pilots such as junior Christian Black.
"It's actually amazing, I always wanted to be an airline pilot from a young age, so now that United is here, now I have that so my dream can finally come true," Black explained, saying he grew up around pilots, with both of his parents in the air force.
United's Aviate program is the company's direct route to becoming first officer, no matter what their training background is at the time of sign up. Multiple DSU alumni who currently flight for United, such as Tyler Solomon-Draughn, were on hand for today's announcement. He says this program will help speed up what can sometimes be a lengthy process for young pilots looking to get their foot in the cockpit door.
"Now they have a map to that pot of gold; that being United and the flight deck," Solomon-Draughn explained. "These guys, it's so structured for them now, that it took me five years to get to the airlines, it's going to take them less time to be there. So I'm super excited about it, I just hope all these guys will participate and hopefully you know we'll be in the cockpit together one day."
Delaware State University President Dr. Tony Allen said this partnership was a natural fit.
"It truly was the missing piece for us. We already train more black pilots than any other place in the country. We already do that. But to make sure they get to their dreams in that cockpit, was very important and to do that in a timely fashion, and that's what Aviate has afforded us," Allen said.
Delaware State University offers a bachelor's of science in aviation, and have the opportunity to earn FAA requirements for the Private Pilot License, Instrument rating, Commercial License, Multi-Engine and Certified Flight Instructor ratings during their schooling. While the school has a long tradition of training pilots, DSU hopes this Aviate program partnership will encourage more prospective students to seriously consider the program.
"Delaware State University is one of the schools that trained the Tuskegee Airmen, and now we are here in the 21st century, in 2021, with a major airline that says we want you to be the first HBCU in our Aviate program. We could not be more thrilled for what that means, not only for our relationship with United, but for those students who have a much quicker, clearer track to realizing their dreams," said Allen.
For more information on Delaware State University's aviation program, click here.
For more information on United Airlines Aviate Program, click here.