(WACO) – Texas State Technical College in Waco and Baylor University’s Institute for Air Science have partnered since 1991 to provide opportunities for students to learn about aviation.
“TSTC has been flight training for a long time,” said William “Trey” Cade III, director of Baylor’s Institute for Air Science. “It was only logical if we were going to have a partnership for a flight program, we would partner with TSTC.”
Baylor and TSTC alumna Bond Henderson and current Baylor and TSTC flight training student Andrew Dolan were both exposed to aviation at an early age.
Henderson, a Kennewick, Washington native, grew up listening to stories of her grandfather flying “Hueys,” the nickname for Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopters, in the Vietnam War.
Henderson, 23, took her first discovery airplane flight while in high school, which quickly stoked her interest in flying. She graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in aviation science – professional pilot concentration from Baylor University and has an associate degree in aircraft pilot training from TSTC.
Henderson is now a fixed-wing instructor at TSTC and also working on helicopter pilot certifications.
“Baylor is a fantastic university,” she said. “This program brought me out of the ‘Baylor bubble’ and got me into more of Waco. I am thankful for the joint partnership. It gave me a real experience for the aviation industry and exposed me to more opportunities.”
Dolan, 21, knew he wanted to study aviation and attend a Christian university when he was attending high school in Ladera Ranch, Calif. He is majoring in the aviation science – professional pilot concentration at Baylor and is doing flight training at TSTC. Dolan is scheduled to graduate from Baylor in spring 2018.
He flies three times a week, weather permitting, with the hours in the air going toward his goal of flying in the U.S. Air Force or working for a West Coast and Hawaiian regional airline.
“TSTC is close to Baylor,” Dolan said. “It’s nice to get off campus. You can segment what you are doing. At TSTC, you don’t have the distractions. We (the Baylor aviation students) wear green, gray or black shirts. I have had some amazing instructors. Being at TSTC has been great.”
Carson Pearce, director of TSTC’s Aerospace Division, said there is a need for students to consider aviation because of the need for qualified pilots. Pearce said by 2024 there will be a projected shortage of 22,500 pilots worldwide.
“We are looking at the greatest shortage of pilots since the 1950s,” Pearce said. “This is due to the increase in commercial flights and retirements. There are airlines on our advisory board that are laying off aircraft because there aren’t pilots.”
Baylor offers bachelor’s degrees in aviation administration and aviation sciences concentrations in professional pilot, air traffic control and aircraft dispatch.
TSTC has associate degrees and certificates in the aircraft airframe technician, aircraft dispatch technology, aircraft pilot training technology and aircraft powerplant technology programs.
Baylor students can transfer their credits to TSTC to earn corresponding associate degrees, which is what Henderson chose to do.
Aviation was not what factored into Henderson’s college decision – it was her sense of adventure. She settled on Baylor after taking a campus tour and becoming enraptured by the buildings and trees. She enrolled as a business major but kept the possibility of aviation in her mind.
“Aviation turned into everything I love: there is business, physics, geometry, the human factors,” she said.
During the holiday break of her freshman year at Baylor, Henderson received flying lessons as a holiday gift. Then during the summer between her freshman and sophomore years, she took more lessons and got a private pilot’s license.
Henderson came across the aviation science curriculum on Baylor’s website and decided she found what she wanted to study. She shifted into the program a week before her sophomore year, which she said gave her motivation and focus with her college life and career goals.
Henderson learned about TSTC when she began taking Baylor’s aviation classes. At first she did not have a concept of what a two-year institution “looked” and “felt” like, but once she toured the James B. Connally Aerospace Center and TSTC Airport, she knew there were hands-on learning opportunities she had to take part in.
Henderson wants to fly helicopter tours at the Grand Canyon and later fly for emergency medical situations.
“Flying a helicopter is quite demanding and I love it so much,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to find something where I am helping the community,” she said.
For more information on Baylor University’s Institute for Air Science, go to baylor.edu/aviation.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.