In real estate, we all have heard many times that it is “location, location, location” that sells homes. But if you have a comprehensive collegiate aviation program, and you want to be able to recruit motivated young people to seek out your school, being across the field from EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is a wonderful thing.
That’s the situation Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) finds itself in. With campuses in Oshkosh and Appleton, Wisconsin, EAA’s big annual summer aviation family reunion is a neighbor every college program teaching aviation students would love to have. With as many as 600,000 happy people attending AirVenture each July, every year of the big EAA show brings in another crop of children and young adults who are getting their fire sparked for a career spent in the air.
Jared Huss, FVTC’s director of aeronautics, has served in many capacities in his 25 years in the aviation industry and knows the school’s proximity to AirVenture is a huge plus. He holds an ATP certificate and has been an airline pilot and contract corporate pilot, along with numerous positions as an aviation educator. When it comes to finding motivated new students, Huss does not have to look far.
“Being co-located with the aviation organization that brings the largest aviation gathering in the world to our community is truly special,” Huss said. “We have the unique opportunity to share the same airport where EAA AirVenture takes place each year. The end of July is always one of the most exciting times of the year that reminds our students why they’ve chosen this career path. I can’t think of a more immersive way to give our students the overwhelming experience of what it means to be a part of such a welcoming, fun-loving, tight-knit family like we find in our aviation community. Having this wonderful aviation community gather right in our backyard and being able to share our community together each year is something that we will always treasure.”
FVTC recently celebrated 30 years in aviation training and offers two main paths of training: aircraft maintenance and flight. Along with programs for airframe & powerplant technicians and aircraft electronics, FVTC operates 10 aircraft—seven Cessna C172S Skyhawks and three Beechcraft Be76 Duchesses—and currently offers two degrees in professional pilot training; an Associate Degree in Aeronautics-Pilot Training and a Technical Diploma in Aeronautics-Professional Pilot, which serves upwards of 70 to 80 flight students. All flight training at FVTC operates from the S. J. Spanbauer Aviation & Industrial Center, located off Oregon Street on the east side of Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH).
Part of AirVenture
Since the beginning of the FVTC aviation program in 1991, the school has had a presence at EAA Airventure. “We’ve enjoyed venues ranging from the exhibit hangars to sharing FVTC Aviation under our own tent, to sharing the wonderful space in the Education Center where we are located near other flight schools, universities, and employers that we collaborate with to help connect students to amazing careers in aviation. It’s wonderful to have such a great venue for our students to explore the gateway to the world of aviation careers right across the airport,” Huss explained.
Huss added that FVTC’s collaborations with EAA extend far beyond that one glorious week in July. “EAA and FVTC have enjoyed many years of collaborative partnership and continue to grow and evolve in new ways together to support the growth of our aviation community. We’ve worked together on initiatives ranging from shared opportunities for aviation students, to collaborative grant efforts, legislative work, promotion of aviation to youth groups through various activities, and more,” he said.
One has to look no further than Kyle Anderson, an FVTC Aeronautics-Pilot Training graduate and current airline pilot, to see how EAA’s annual summer show can fire up local young people.
“EAA (AirVenture) for me was the main reason I wanted to pursue a career in aviation,” Anderson said. “I literally learned how to walk at EAA, and haven’t missed a year except for 2020 due to Covid. I can remember some of my earliest and fondest memories involved sitting on the flight line eating ice cream with my Grandpa and watching the airshow planes make their passes. I went through the AirVenture academics tent my senior year and found FVTC’s booth where I began talking with their representatives. Upon learning the more affordable costs, the number of ratings you can earn, and the locality of their flight school to my home, it was perfect. Fast forward, I now fly the Embraer E175 for Skywest Airlines. I can say I learned to fly at one of the most famous airports, one that was the birthplace of my love for aviation.”
Operations at the Summer’s Busiest Airport
Anyone who has ever been lucky enough to attend AirVenture knows the sky can become thick with every imaginable type of flying machine at various times. Huss explained that FVTC has a long-established plan to avoid flight training conflicts with all that traffic.
“As you can probably imagine, the airport and airspace around KOSH become quite active in the days leading up to and including the week of AirVenture,” Huss said. “As such, we stop flight training operations mid-week the week prior to AirVenture and resume in the days following the event. Aviation students and staff find themselves taking a step back from the day-to-day and get to go out and enjoy what AirVenture is all about. You won’t hear a lot of complaints from a bunch of passionate aviation enthusiasts with some extra time on their hands to watch airplanes and take part in the greatest aviation gathering in the world!”
Huss noted that each year at AirVenture, students, faculty, and staff from FVTC take part in AirVenture in many ways, from working their booth in the Education Center or presenting topics at one of the many seminars that take place daily.
Only One of FVTC’s Collaborations
KOSH is considered by many to be the focal point of general aviation in the U.S., and FVTC’s campus on the east side of the airport means working with many other companies is a logical collaboration.
“FVTC works closely with Basler Turbo Conversions right next door to our Aviation Training Center, Air Wisconsin Airlines is right up the road, and Sonex Aircraft is right there on the field,” Huss said. “There are countless other flight departments and operators that we serve throughout our district and the region as a whole, an important one is Gulfstream, located at Appleton (KATW). With Gulfstream’s significant growth and additional opportunities at the Appleton location, FVTC has been stretching and exploring ways to best meet the surging needs of the aviation maintenance workforce. Gulfstream has been very supportive of these efforts, and several grant opportunities that FVTC has pursued have been awarded.”