Delaware State University dedicated the first aircraft in a new fleet of planes during a ceremony on Wednesday at the Delaware Air Park in Cheswold.
The first aircraft is the first of 10 Vulcanair V1.0 single-engine planes to be delivered to the university. The fleet will expand the university’s Aviation Program.
The university is also further expanding its fleet by acquiring a twin-engine Piper Seminole aircraft.
University President Wilma Mishoe and Aviation Program Director Lt. Col. Michael Hales welcomed legislators, local elected officials and representatives from the aviation and business communities.
The Delaware Higher Education Economic Development Fund (DHEEDF) earlier made a $3.4 million grant to Delaware State University to expand the Aviation Program, the only one of its kind among Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“This is an extraordinary vote of confidence in the quality and significance of our program and in its’ importance Delaware and to the aviation industry nationwide,” Mishoe said earlier this year. “This grant allows to move forward with plans to first replace our current aircraft fleet, and then double it over the next decade.” She noted that Delaware State’s Aviation Program not only boasts 100 percent career placement of pilot graduates within a year of graduation but is also “the largest producer of pilots and aviation professionals of color in the country.”
The University has placed an initial order for ten Vulcanair V1.0 FAA-certified single-engine aircraft from Ameravia Inc. (Vulcanair Aircraft distributor for the U.S.). Ameravia will also be the university’s source for additional aircraft and material for maintenance support.
Between construction and new positions for mechanics, flight instructors, and support staff, the university anticipates the creation of hundreds of new jobs in the Greater Kent County area over the next few years.
Delaware State University’s Aviation Program has its roots in the Federal initiative that created the famous “Tuskegee Airmen” in 1939-1940. “That’s why we paint the tails of our aircraft ‘Tuskegee Red,’ ” said Lt. Col. (Ret.) Michael Hales, the program’s director. Its modern incarnation traces back to a 1987 revitalization under Dr. Daniel Coons.