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Oklahoma State University

Flight Center Moving Forward to Serve Students Despite Storm Damage

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Despite recent storm damage to the fleet of planes, the OSU Flight Center is moving forward and continuing to serve an increased number of students this fall.

On September 11, an overnight storm in Stillwater produced winds that reached 70 miles per hour and five planes in the OSU fleet sustained damage. Students and staff have come to come together to work through access to a reduced fleet, according to Mark Uhlman, who serves as the OSU Flight Center’s Chief Flight Instructor.

“The Flight Center staff appreciates the teamwork of students, instructors, and administrators to minimize the effects of the storm,” Uhlman, says. “Both flight instructors and students have been willing to modify schedules. The daily “launch time” usually begins at 7:30 a.m., but after the storm student/instructor pairs were allowed to volunteer for a 6:00 a.m. flight to better utilize the fleet, and several did.  Additionally, the schedule was extended out to include 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. launch times, and students are taking advantage of those times, too.  Since the storm, we have accrued about 70 flight hours outside the normal flight schedule.”

Of the five Cessna 172 planes damaged, one has already been repaired and insurance has provided for another leased airplane. Plans for replacement aircraft are already in the works.

“Our team at the Flight Center is tremendous. I am grateful to (Flight Center manager) Lance Fortney, Mark Uhlman and (assistant chief flight instructor) Jared Dunlap for their leadership in navigating these challenges,” College of Education Interim Dean Robert Davis says. “The students have responded in a positive way and we appreciate their willingness to be flexible.”

Thanks to new scheduling software and processes, additions to the fleet and the program’s increased enrollment, OSU aviation students have flown 54 percent more hours this fall than in the same period during the fall of 2014. The OSU Flight Center employs a record 27 flight instructors and operates 24 aircraft.