KSU eyes Wichita for flight degree

Kansas State University-Salina is exploring the possibility of opening a satellite campus in Wichita for professional pilot training.

The office would be an extension of K-State Salina's degreed professional pilot program, said K-State Salina dean Dennis Kuhlman.

"We're one of the top five aviation programs in the nation," Kuhlman said. "We would like to take that strength and make it more readily available... to the citizens of the state of Kansas."

The university is looking at various scenarios. It is studying the feasibility of a Wichita location and performing a cost analysis. It plans to make a decision by late January, he said.

"With all the budget cuts at the Board of Regents level and at the state level, we want to make sure this makes economic sense," Kuhlman said.

"We're just about ready to start putting the pieces of this puzzle together in a way we can put some real structure on this skeleton."

If plans come together, the university would begin the Wichita program in the fall 2010 semester, he said.

K-State is exploring potential sites for the classes, including Col. James Jabara Airport in northeast Wichita and Mid-Continent Airport out west, Kuhlman said. No decisions have been made.

It also wants to work out a partnership with Wichita State University and area community colleges so that K-State would provide the professional pilot courses in Wichita while students would get their core classes elsewhere.

It also wants to work with WSU so that students could earn two degrees. For example, a student could work on a degree in aeronautical engineering from WSU and a professional pilot degree from K-State at the same time.

One thing K-State doesn't want to do is compete with area flight schools, Kuhlman said.

"We don't want to go into any airport and compete with private enterprise," he said. "We want to serve the needs from an educational aspect."