Graduates of Fox Valley Technical College’s Aeronautics-Pilot Training program scored 95% on a newly-implemented Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) set of pilot exams.
The exam requires a passing score of 70%, and the average national pass rate is near 80%.
The following article, "FVTC Leads in Pilot Prep, Boasts High Pass Rate," was published on Saturday, June 25, 2016 in the Oshkosh Northwestern, by Noell Dickmann, USA Today Network-Wisconsin.
FVTC Leads in Pilot Prep, Boasts High Pass Rate
Fox Valley Technical College has further cemented its leadership in pilot instruction.
The college converted its pilot training program to a Federal Aviation Administration-approved 141 program in July 2014, which must be renewed every two years. One of the requirements in renewing is an 80 percent pass rate on a three-part test, said Jared Huss, chief instructor and aeronautics department chair at the college.
Fox Valley Technical College has far exceeded that requirement, with a 95 percent pass rate for the program.
Huss said the milestone is due to the college's approach of training to a 100 percent rather than 70 percent - it graduates the best and brightest in the industry.
The 141 program is a three-year path and students are tested in a written portion, oral portion, question-and-answer session and on their flying ability. It has a strict set of regulations and is audited and approved by the FAA, Huss said.
Overall, it's a higher level of training for a pilot than a typical 61 program.
The 95 percent pass rate for the program speaks volumes to the hardworking staff and students, as it's like having a full-time job, Huss said.
"That takes a lot of energy, a lot of effort by these students," he added. "And it's not just the 40 hours a week that they'll spend here. There's a tremendous amount of time outside of the classroom that they need to study to prepare to make the most of their flying."
Student Tanner Byholm, 20, chose to attend FVTC specially for its 141 program, which will also allow him to earn his Airline Transport Pilot certificate at 1,250 flight hours instead of 1,500.That can equate to getting in the field as many as two years sooner, he said.
The program has rigorous training during all hours of the day - such as night flights and homework outside of class and flight time - but it's rewarding, he said.
"It's like going to an ivy league school rather than a normal college," Byholm said. "It's more strict and rigorous training but it makes you a better pilot."
Byholm, who is from Glidden and now lives in Oshkosh, joined the Marine Corp after high school to fly fighter jets, then joined the reserves after basic training and went to FVTC to earn his pilot certificates. He's keeping his career options open once he graduates, however, going to work for an airline is attractive because he'd have the ability to apply for the best jobs since there is a pilot shortage.
Dick Hanusa, an FAA designated pilot examiner in Oshkosh, said he sees very well-prepared and qualified student pilots when he does check rides with them for pilot certification. FVTC students are prepared to advance, and are familiar with standards the industry uses since the college provides similar training and procedures.
"The foundation that they receive at a training program like Fox Valley Technical College is really the key factor to their success as they move on forward," he said. "If someone isn't well-prepared and doesn’t have the motivation to take on such a program ... they may struggle as they advance."
Instructors and students are held to high standards - which is clearly indicated in the high pass rate, he said.
Besides exceptional flying ability, students are graduating with strong soft skills, like showing up and completing tasks on time, said Mike Melotte, flight training standard development manager for Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp.
"You have to put in the time and energy to be that good," he said. "But you also have to build those soft skills employees are looking for."