For the first time this fall, George Mason University students have the opportunity to pursue aviation studies and gain knowledge necessary to become a pilot.
The new Aviation Flight Training and Management minor is now available through Mason’s engineering program. The 15 credit minor allows students to study topics including airport design, Human psychology and air traffic control. The students also take courses that prepare them for government licensing exams to become a pilot and complete flight training hours. Near the completion of the minor, students can take a solo flight.
Aviation is a growing industry, and Mason offers this opportunity to allow students easier access to jobs in this field. The minor originally began as an aviation club founded by Conor Dancy, a Mason alum who majored in biology, and is a group for students interested in planes and aviation. The group meets to discuss topics such as the necessary skills to become a pilot participates in events that allow members to fly in planes. The club is still active, but the new minor allows students that are serious about aviation to pursue further studies of the subject.
Sean Graham, one of the first students to take up the minor, says the program is “a fantastic minor that deserves a lot of attention.” Growing up, Graham lived in places all over the world including India, Ghana, West Africa, the Philippines and the United States. At some point he decided he wanted to be in charge of his own journey.
“I want to fly myself, you know?” Graham said. “I’ve been on too many commercial flights.”
Graham joined the army, where he pursued his love of flying. He worked as a joint fires observer and frequently worked with planes. However, instead of pursuing his pilot’s license through the military, Graham decided to use his GI Bill to go to Mason where he could earn the license without the time commitment required of the Army.
“It’s an ability to learn a whole new skill set,” Graham said. “It opens your eyes up to a whole new world. There’s a lot of career potential in it, and it’s a fun hobby. I’d recommend it to anybody.”
Many courses for the minor are offered on the Fairfax campus or online. Once certified, students can fly out of airports around the area. Graham flies out of Manassas Regional Airport, located roughly four miles from the Prince William campus.