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Liberty School of Aeronautics enters pilot pipeline agreement with Allegiant Air


Allegiant representatives visited Liberty University on Jan. 29-30 to introduce School of Aeronautics students to the Accelerate pathway program. (Photo by Alyssa Hurley)

This spring, Liberty University School of Aeronautics graduates can launch their commercial aviation careers with Allegiant’s pilot pathway program, Accelerate. The program is designed specifically for university students looking to make the transition to professional pilot.

The aviation industry is experiencing a flight crew staffing shortage at a time when demand for air travel is at a historic high. By providing mentorship, conditional employment as a first officer for Allegiant, and assistance with regulatory credentials, Allegiant hopes the Accelerate Pilot Pathway will streamline the process new pilots face when transitioning from flight school to a major commercial carrier.

“We are thrilled to expand the Accelerate Pilot Pathway program and partner with universities across the country,” said Tyler Hollingsworth, Allegiant’s vice president of flight crew operations. “This program provides an excellent opportunity for talented and motivated students to pursue their dream of becoming a first officer with a major airline without the need to fly for a regional carrier. We look forward to welcoming our future first officers and supporting them through their training and career with Allegiant.”

Upon entering their senior year, students may be hired on as a cadet and provided a conditional job offer as an Allegiant first officer. Cadets will enjoy Allegiant employee benefits such as pass travel on Allegiant flights, participation in visits to Allegiant’s headquarters in Las Vegas, and access to Allegiant’s training centers. Once a cadet reaches their required hours of flight training, Allegiant will sponsor their attendance in an Airline Transport Pilot Certification course, and upon completion, will join Allegiant as a first officer.

“All of us in the School of Aeronautics are excited for the new Allegiant partnership which opens a well-designed pathway directly to the Allegiant flight deck with thoughtful and supportive training milestones and professional mentorship for our Liberty University trained aviators,” Liberty SOA Dean Dr. Rick Roof said. “This opportunity will serve both our graduates and Allegiant as we connect exceptional Liberty aviators with Allegiant’s unique lifestyle and professional opportunities.”

Allegiant’s university partnership program offers competitive compensation and benefits packages, including reimbursement of up to $50,000 of student loans used to cover flight training expenses paid directly to the loan servicing provider after three years of employment with the airline.

Flexibility of schedule is a primary perk of the airline, which allows its pilots to spend quality time with their families on a regular basis.

Captain Lance Welch (left, ’10) and Dr. Robert Hudson, an adjunct professor in Liberty’s School of Aeronautics, have thrived in their careers with Allegiant Air.

“Allegiant is one of the only airlines in the industry that you get to be home every night and have a great work environment with the crews you get to work with,” said Allegiant Captain Lance Welch, a 2010 Liberty graduate who was hired by Allegiant in July 2015 and is based out of Punta Gorda (Fla.) Airport. “I am excited to see the partnership with Liberty University, which I know to be one of the leading schools in the country. Liberty’s faculty and instructor cadre have decades of experience ranging from airlines to the mission fields and military experience, and I believe the well-rounded pilots that Liberty produces will be a great addition to the Allegiant team.”

“Working at Allegiant as a pilot has been the best opportunity I have found to be able to fly airplanes for a living and have a great family life … because of Allegiant’s unique route structure,” added Allegiant First Officer James Mashburn Jr. (’12), who started with the airline in 2022.

Dr. Robert Hudson, an LUSOA adjunct professor who served as a pilot for multiple commercial airlines over the past 25 years, has enjoyed the family approach since landing as a pilot with Allegiant Air.

“I love it here, and I am delighted and excited to start serving as a mentor to Liberty University students who are interested in joining the Allegiant Air pathway program,” Hudson said. “I feel that Allegiant Air is by far the best airline job available for pilots. We have a friendly family culture/atmosphere and most days it feels more like spending a day out with friends than a day at work. Our LUSOA students are now blessed with a new opportunity to get connected to one of the strongest, most profitable airlines in the industry. They should seriously consider finding out more about this unique airline and how they can pursue starting their aviation careers here.”

Founded in 1997 in Fresno, Calif., Allegiant’s unique business model caters to leisure travelers. The airline focuses on linking travelers in small cities with limited or no air service to top leisure destinations. Allegiant provides nonstop, scheduled service from more than 120 U.S. cities.

Allegiant’s Accelerate Pilot Pathway includes partnerships with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 141 aviation training programs at Kent State University, Purdue University, Ohio University, Utah Valley University, and Western Michigan University.

Liberty School of Aeronautics student-pilots and flight instructors line up in front of the school’s fleet of Cessna 172S Skyhawks and Piper PA-44 Seminoles. (Photo by Joel Coleman)
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