Amid the bustling activity of a busy Yeager Airport (KCRW), Marshall University marked the official opening of the Bill Noe Flight School in Charleston, West Virginia, this week.
University President Jerome A. Gilbert and more than a dozen others cut the ribbon for the Maier Aviation Building and a 12,000-square-foot hangar at the airport.
“Back in 2017, shortly after I arrived at Marshall, the idea of developing an aviation initiative began to come together,” Gilbert said. “It was the vision of a lot of people who knew its potential for our region. Today, we are celebrating this incredible achievement that is the product of successful partnerships with many individuals, companies and organizations.
“This dream of creating a flight school for Marshall is realized today.”
The flight school will welcome at least 20 students in its inaugural class, which is set to begin in two weeks. Additional students are in the admissions pipeline and are expected to join the class. Students will earn a four-year Commercial Pilot: Fixed Wing bachelor of science degree.
The ground school and flight training courses will culminate in the relevant FAA certificates, preparing graduates to obtain commercial pilot certification with single-engine and multiengine class ratings.
Marshall’s fleet, custom designed and painted with Marshall’s trademark Kelly green, will include up to nine Cirrus SR20s, which will be the mainstay of the program. It’s expected a Piper twin will also be purchased.
Bill Noe, for whom the flight school is named, is a Marshall graduate and the former chief operating officer of NetJets, a Columbus, Ohio-based company geared to meeting private air travel needs. He also serves as an executive aviation specialist for Marshall’s program.
“We will produce skilled pilots for the local, regional, national and global levels,” Noe said. “Congratulations to all as we launch the ‘Herd’ into the atmosphere.”
The area occupied by the flight school is leased by Yeager Airport and consists of 180,000 square feet of space on the airport’s airfield. There are two buildings:
- The Maier facility, measuring approximately 10,000 square feet
- The hangar, which is approximately 12,000 square feet.
“This space where we are was formerly used as a runway and then it was turned into a taxiway,” said Nick Keller, director and CEO of Yeager Airport. “Now, we are going to use this space to create a very important economic boost to this region.”
Recent studies project that there’ll be a need for more than 10,000 new pilots in the United States each year for the next 20 years. At its peak, Marshall will graduate 50 pilots a year with a total enrollment of 200 students.
In addition to its flight school in Charleston, Marshall is also partnering with Mountwest Community and Technical College on a two-year aviation maintenance degree, which will be housed at Tri-State Airport in Wayne County. A spring 2022 start date is projected for the program.