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School of Aeronautics receives two new Cessna Skyhawk training aircraft

The two new Cessna Skyhawks bring the Liberty University School of Aeronautics’ fleet to 27 aircraft. (Photos by Andrew Snyder)

Liberty University’s School of Aeronautics (SOA) received two new Cessna Skyhawk 172 aircraft from Textron Aviation in Independence, Kansas last week. With its enrollment steadily rising, these aircraft are already operational on the SOA’s flight line, bring the total training fleet to 27.

“This investment in our fleet reflects our commitment to excellence and the overall growth of our program,” said Dr. Rick Roof, SOA Dean. “It also ensures that we have world class training resources for our students.”

With the recent purchase of these aircraft, the fleet now includes 22 single-engine Cessna and five Piper Seminole twin-engine aircraft.

“These additions are both technically advanced Garmin G1000 Nxi-equipped aircraft,” Roof said, noting that the Cessna Skyhawk offers a safe, stable, and reliable training platform. “That’s important to us. It simplifies and standardizes our flight training programs by maintaining a consistent learning environment for our students.”

According to its manufacturer, Textron Aviation, the Skyhawk is the most popular single-engine aircraft ever built and has achieved a reputation for being the ultimate flight training aircraft for student pilots. At a cost of over $400,000 per plane, it offers simplistic flight characteristics, a slow landing speed, lenient stall, great visibility, and a sophisticated glass cockpit outfitted with Garmin G1000 avionics.

Inside the cockpit of a Cessna Skyhawk, equipped with state-of-the-art Garmin G1000 avionics technology

The new Technically Advanced Aircraft (TAA) ensure Liberty students are trained with the latest technological innovations within the realm of general aviation avionics systems. In addition to the Garmin G1000, these new Cessna 172 aircraft are equipped with a factory fitted Safe Flight Angle-of-Attack (AoA) indicator, and a new Garmin GI275 solid state standby attitude indicator. Both of these advancements provide heightened awareness and overall increased safety of our flight training program, according to Roof.

“Paired with our industry-recognized flight simulator department, these new aircraft provide a state-of-the-art training environment for our flight students,” Roof said. “Our simulators are configured to replicate the Cessna 172, so the two work hand-in-hand in creating a seamless transition from flight simulator to aircraft.”

Residential enrollment in Liberty’s SOA, the largest faith-based aeronautics program in the United States, recently surpassed 600 students, including 450 students enrolled in a degree requiring flight training. The school now has more than 50 flight instructors providing training Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to midnight. The program is currently training 225 flight course students this semester and these new aircraft will help meet the requirements of continued program growth.

“The School of Aeronautics is thankful for the continued support of Liberty University’s Executive Leadership team and their investment in the continued growth of our program,” he said.

The Cessna Skyhawk is also used by both the Liberty Belles’ Air Race Classic and National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) flight teams.

From left, Liberty School of Aeronautics Dean Dr. Rick Roof, Executive Director of Flight Operations David Miller, Chief Flight Instructor Peter Spahr, and Director of Flight Training, Jonny Hewitt stand beside the two new Cessna Skyhawks.