On October 16th, Saint Francis University officially launched the new Aviation program with a blessing and christening at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport.
Mr. Thomas Keyes, the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Manager, opened the event with a warm welcome and introduced Mr. James Loncella, Airport Authority Chairman who spoke about how the Johnstown airport is well-positioned for the resurgence in aviation. “We see the beginning of a turnaround in general aviation,” he said.
University President, Rev. Malachi Van Tassell, T.O.R., Ph.D, said a prayer to Saint Joseph of Cupertino, the Patron Saint of Aviation, and performed the blessing of the brand new Diamond DA40 NG aircraft and the students that fly in it.
The Aviation program’s four current students, Gabrielle Garritson, Criminal Justice major; Andres Barbosa, Environmental Engineering major; Cade Young, General Engineering major; and Cross Edwards, Management major; attended the blessing ceremony and prepared the aircraft for Flight Instructor, Larry Servinsky’s flight with Fr. Malachi and Brother Marius Strom.
With the number of people flying on commercial airlines soaring to over 3 billion annually, there is a major demand for new pilots both globally and in North America. Boeing, the world’s largest airplane manufacturer, estimates a need for 637,000 new pilots by 2036, with 117,000 of them based in North America. Delta Air Lines estimates they’ll need to hire more than 8,000 pilots over the next decade due to the mandated retirement age of 65.
Students in SFU’s Aviation program hope to leverage this industry need into unique job opportunities. Student Gabrielle Garritson added the Aviation Concentration to her Criminal Justice major with the goal of becoming an air surveillance pilot for the FBI.
“There’s always something to be looking at, learning and experiencing,” Gabby said. “It feels so liberating when I’m in the air controlling the aircraft.”
The Aviation Program at Saint Francis
Saint Francis University is one of only three universities in the state where you can obtain a pilot’s license along with a four-year degree. The SFU Aviation Program, provided in coordination with Nulton Aviation Services at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, is designed to take a student with no past flight experience and train them such that they can fly, professionally, a single engine, land-based aircraft in a variety of flight conditions. Students can apply the Aviation Concentration to most majors.
Learn More about the Aviation Program