A $3.4-million grant has been announced to Delaware State University to expand its Aviation Program – the only one of its kind among Historically Black Colleges and Universities. DSU’s president says they will move forward with plans to replace their current aircraft fleet and then double it over the next 10 years. Between construction and new positions for mechanics, flight instructors and support staff, the University anticipates the creation of hundreds of new jobs in the Greater Kent County area over the next few years. The grant comes from the Delaware Higher Education Economic Development Fund.
The University has placed an initial order for 10 Vulcanair V1.0 FAA-certified single-engine aircraft from Ameravia Inc. (Vulcanair Aircraft distributor for the U.S.). The first new aircraft will arrive in April. Ameravia will also be the University’s source for additional aircraft and material for maintenance support.
“Our proposal also contributes to building a broader, better economic vitality in Greater Kent County,” said Dr. Tony Allen, Provost and Executive Vice President of the University. “Growing our Aviation Program requires increases aircraft service and significant enlargement of our hangar space at the Delaware Air Park in Cheswold. Equally important is the opportunity to develop deeper relationships with the local aviation industry, Dover Air Force Base, and the Delaware River and Bay Authority.”
Delaware State University’s Aviation Program has its roots in the Federal initiative that created the famous “Tuskegee Airmen” in 1939-1940. “That’s why we paint the tails of our aircraft ‘Tuskegee Red,’” said Lt. Col. (Ret.) Michael Hales, the program’s director. Its modern incarnation traces back to a 1987 revitalization under its founding director, the late Dr. Daniel Coons.
“This unique program separates Delaware State University from most other institutions of higher education nationwide,” said Senator Dave Sokola, who co-chairs the Bond Bill Committee that oversees the fund. He pointed out that the program is one of the least expensive in the nation, and a major provider of highly qualified “pilots, air traffic controllers, and aviation administrators” making it a premier source of minority aviation professionals for regional and national airlines.