Home-United StatesDelta State Graduates 2nd Class of Ag Pilots

Delta State Graduates 2nd Class of Ag Pilots

CLEVELAND, Miss. – The second class of students from the Commercial Aviation Department at Delta State University to graduate with an Agricultural Aviation Operations Career Pathway Certification were recognized during a ceremony on May 24 in the DSU airport hangar at the Cleveland Municipal Airport. Completion of the program allows graduates to be hired by an aerial applicator business without incurring increased insurance costs, removing one of the largest hurdles for new ag pilots.

The program is the result of DSU’s collaboration with area ag pilots, the Cleveland Airport Board, Blues Air, and many others. The program is 100% funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., was instrumental in getting the program off the ground and was present at the ceremony to congratulate the graduates.

“It is a great day to be in the Delta,” she said. “I am so excited about this ag pilot program we have here at Delta State University. To see it come together and to be graduating students today is a huge accomplishment.”

Program graduate Anthony Duffin of Glen Alan said, “I’ve wanted to be an ag pilot since I was a kid.” He said that he particularly enjoyed flying the Air Tractor 802 that students train in. “It’s a beast of a plane.” Duffin will be flying an earlier model Air Tractor, the 502, as he begins work for an aerial application company in Louisiana this summer.

Justin Parkey of Charleston also received his certification, saying, “I was training at Blues Air when the program came out, so I tried to get a slot as soon as I could.” When asked what comes next, he said, “I will be working around Charleston flying Ag Cats for Chris Henke at SRB Aerial Applicators.”

Ike Brunetti of Brunetti Flying Service in Shelby has been instrumental in organizing the program and has been a mentor for the new pilots and their instructors as the program has developed. He said, “These 11 young men will fill needs in our industry. We are so proud to have Senator Hyde-Smith here as our guest speaker. This program exists because of her passion. She started this ten years ago, and it has taken a tremendous amount of effort from the community and the university to create this much-needed program.”

Phillip Krasner, owner of Blues Air, said, “The students go through the basic ag course while they’re working on their commercial pilot license, then they go to an Air tractor simulator. After that, they move on to Advanced Turbine Training which takes them through AT-802 training and completes the program.”

The Agricultural Aviation Operations Career Pathway Certification attests to a student successfully completing hazmat training, FAA instrument flight certification, FAA commercial certification, tailwheel endorsement and a minimum of 100 hours, 25 hours of which consisting of light bar training in a Citabria, 25 hours of light bar aerial application In an AG Wagon (C-188) and ten-hour type-rating and aerial application in an Air Tractor 802.

Hyde-Smith said, “Mississippi is agriculture, through and through. It’s our number one industry. But for the two percent of us that feed the other 98 percent of the country, ag pilots are very important. We could not do it without them.”

Colonel Brad MacNealy, Interim Chair of Delta State’s Commercial Aviation Department said, “We are proud of the 11 men who just completed our second cohort. With a growing population, a shortage of pilots, and aging aerial agricultural applicators, the need for newly trained ag pilots is critical. There’s a huge shortage of training opportunities in the world, and we have the premier aerial applicator course right here at Delta State. We have been able to bring this program to Cleveland, Mississippi, and make this a one-stop shop with a huge impact.”

Students receiving certification are:

Mason Anderson, Cleveland

Carson Blair, Sidon

Cruse Corso, Taylor

Anthony Duffin, Glen Alan

Curt Dungan, Charleston

Aden Easter, Sumner

Anderson Gentry, Courtland

John Reece Jackson, Isola

Allen Jernigan, Leland

Justin Parkey, Charleston

Blake Rykard, Cleveland

For more information about the Agricultural Aviation Operations Career Pathway and other Commercial Aviation programs at Delta State University, visit https://www.deltastate.edu/college-of-business/commercial-aviation/.






Loading RSS Feed

Most Popular