Eastern Kentucky University officials participated Thursday in the first Aerospace and Aviation Day event at the state Capitol, highlighting the role the college plays in meeting the command for commercial pilots for years to come .
Assistant Aviation Professor Joe Marthaler said hundreds of thousands of pilots will be needed to fly aircraft over the next 15 years. EKU’s aviation program, initiated in the early 1980’s, can help out with that. “They can’t fill those spots fast enough right now and that’s what EKU is hoping to tap.”
Marthaler said the increasing need for pilots comes with retirements and others leaving the flying profession. State officials say aerospace and aviation products in Kentucky rank number one in exports at almost $11 billion.
Marthaler said there are currently 15 planes in EKU’s fleet and more than 140 students.
“My goal and EKU’s aviation’s goal is to purchase the airplanes so that we can be a self-sustaining entity and perpetuate and give our students the latest and greatest technology,” he said.