Channel Islands Aviation Del Kienholz (left), assistant chief flight instructor at Channel Islands Aviation, is shown with Sonny DaSilva, the first student in the company’s degree program with Liberty University.
How would you like to have an office at 30,000 feet, with a view from your window of endless blue skies?
For those who have been thinking about getting a pilot's license and a college degree, now might be the time. A new partnership between Channel Islands Aviation in Camarillo and Liberty University in Virginia gives would-be pilots the opportunity to learn to fly and earn a bachelor of science degree in aeronautics in as little as 2½ years.
Channel Islands Aviation is the newest flight training school to affiliate with the university. Liberty offers academic courses online while students learn to fly at one of 40 flight training schools.
Channel Islands enrolled its first student Dec. 15, said Sarah Oberman Bartush, its flight school manager and chief marketing officer. The company is owned and operated by the Oberman family of Camarillo and is a Federal Aviation Administration-approved school, she said. Jan. 1 marks Channel Islands' 40th year in business.
"We're pretty excited about it, and I hope to make a difference in the area here for people who want to pursue a degree and flight training together," she said. This is the first time her company has partnered with a college in a bachelor's degree program, she said.
"We just recognized the demand in the local area here for flight training, especially career-oriented training, because of the pilot shortage. It really is an issue. We recognized that a program being online will give students the flexibility to both fly, do their online studies and still have a job," she said.
The course includes 250 to 300 hours of flight training. Students can take courses year-round and earn the degree in 2½ years, said Brian Hough, executive director of business development and affiliate operations for Liberty University's School of Aeronautics.
Based in Lynchburg, Liberty is a Christian liberal arts university that offers 450 majors online. Annual enrollment includes more than 15,000 residential students and over 100,000 online students, Hough said. During the past 12 years, the university's flight program has grown to over 600 residential students and over 1,000 online students, Hough said.
Career options for students with the degree include certified flight instructor or commercial airline, air cargo, corporate, charter, military or missionary pilot. Students study aerodynamics, aviation safety and weather, among other subjects.
Students with no prior flight experience pay $40,000 for tuition and about $60,000 for all of the flight instruction, for a $100,000 total cost, Hough said.
Hough said Camarillo is an ideal location for Liberty's online flight students. "It's a very entrepreneurial family-owned company, which impressed me," he said.
Enrollment is now open, and classes begin Jan. 18.