“Once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” There’s some debate as to whether it was really Leonardo da Vinci who uttered this quote, but there’s no debate about the joys of flying.
But you don’t really need a 4-year course to learn how to pilot an aircraft though you will still need a bachelor’s degree if you want to be a commercial pilot. And one singularly appropriate degree is Aviation.
Aviation in College
Many universities refer to the study of Aviation as Aviation Science or Aeronautics. Other schools regard Aviation as a broad discipline, with courses such as Aviation or Airport Management and Air Traffic Control. But many schools consider Aviation Science as the study of human-made airborne devices.
Typically, Aviation programs prepare you for various aviation careers, which include pilot or airport management positions as well as a designer or manufacturer of airplanes, helicopters, spacecraft, and even drones.
The program may include courses in a wide variety of topics, such as propulsion, aerodynamics, Aviation meteorology, physics, aviation law and security, aeroelasticity, structures, and materials.
It’s a lot of science and math, and high school students are well advised to have a solid foundation in physics and math including calculus.
As an aviation graduate, you have a number of options. You can work with airlines, and perhaps work your way into becoming an airline pilot. You can also work with any of the airports all over the country, as a manager or supervisor. You can help maintain and improve airport procedures so that it runs smoothly. You can also specialize in aviation safety as an expert.
You can also work in engineering firms that design or construct new aircraft and spacecraft, and that includes rockets, drones, and missiles. Your knowledge can help develop models and anticipate and correct design problems. You can also help out in the testing phase to check for flaws before a device goes into production.
You can also work as a technician, helping in repairing and maintaining various aircraft as well.
With such a broad degree like Aviation, pinpointing the best colleges can be difficult. But you can’t go wrong with a school like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which has the oldest aviation university program in the US. According to the university, airlines hire more people from this school than from any other university. A TIME Magazine article once dubbed it “The Harvard of the Sky”.
The Aviation program at University of North Dakota also has an excellent reputation. It has more than 120 aircraft in its fleet, including helicopters and unmanned aerial systems.
You can also opt for Western Michigan University, where the College of Aviation offers degrees in Aviation Flight Science, Aviation Management & Operations or Aviation Maintenance Technician. It also has dozens of airplanes in its fleet.
Purdue is another great choice, as its College of Technology offers degrees in Aeronautical Engineering Technology, Air Traffic Control, Aviation Management, or Professional Flight Technology.
Other well-known universities with Aviation Science programs include Arizona State University, Miami Dade College, Ohio State University, Ohio University, University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University.