Guest Column: CNCC aviation program a huge success

RBC | In this month’s column I wanted to brag a bit about our aviation program. It has been a big part of Colorado Northwestern Community College for more than 50 years and the aviation flight program has been one of our most successful programs at CNCC. Its success is directly tied to our dedicated instructors, talented students, and the amazing support we get from our communities.

Our flight program is very unique in several ways. One key benefit our students enjoy is that CNCC owns and maintains our own planes. These planes have either been purchased out right by the college or donated to the college by generous alumni. These planes are being updated continuously to provide our students with the best possible equipment. Most colleges who teach aviation have to lease planes or students have to buy flying lessons from private companies. Because we own our planes, our program is less expensive than any other flight program in the country, and we are able to pass those savings on to our students.

Additionally, thanks to the great partnership we have with Rio Blanco County, CNCC has full use of the airport in Rangely. This gives our students the opportunity to fly in unrestricted air space while our location provides students with valuable mountain flying experience.

We also have a great relationship with Metro State University that allows our students to transfer to their program after graduating from CNCC. This relationship has been getting stronger over the last few years to include us teach some flight classes at the Front Range Airport to Metro State students.   We are hoping to expand this great partnership in the future and hope to be able to bring Metro students to our campus in the summers for flight classes.

When students take aviation at CNCC they get certifications in many different areas.  They can learn to be a private pilot, commercial pilot, or even an instructor at a flight program such as ours. Thanks to a recent donation of a seaplane by a generous alumni and the proximity of Kenney Reservoir, CNCC is also working to provide water landing certification.

Finally, our students not only get the benefit of top notch instruction and a great classroom experience, but they are able to compete against other programs at both two and four year colleges throughout the country. Our flight team has continually performed well at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) competition. This competition allows our students to test the skills they have learned in instrumentation, flying and many other areas. Two out of the last three years CNCC has placed second in our region behind the Air Force Academy which qualified them to compete at a national level.  In both of those years, our NIFA team has shown how well trained they are and have come home knowing they are some of the best in the country.

So when you see those small planes flying around Rangely and Rio Blanco County, know that it is our flight program working hard to teach the next generation of pilots.

By RON GRANGER | Special to the Herald Times