West Virginia Aeronautics Commission Director Sean Hill was on last week to witness a ribbon cutting for Marshall University’s Bill Noe Flight School. The commercial aviation training school, located at Yeager Airport in Charleston, is scheduled to open for the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.
The West Virginia Aeronautics Commission, part of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, played an important role in bringing airport officials, officials from Marshall and the Federal Aviation Administration together to get the project off the ground. In addition, Gov. Jim Justice matched federal funding to help build a road to the facility, which is located on a former runway.
Marshall University President Jerome A. Gilbert, Yeager Airport Director Nick Keller, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin, Kanawha County officials and flight school namesake Bill Noe took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the flight school on Tuesday, Aug. 10.
“The Aeronautics Commission played a key role in furthering aeronautic education in West Virginia,” said Keller. “The road opened up all this land for development.”
Boeing and others in the airline industry have predicted the need for tens of thousands of new pilots and aircraft technicians in the next 20 years. Once fully up and running, the Bill Noe Flight School will enroll 200 students a year, and graduate 50 new pilots.
Graduates of the flight school will be qualified to fly commercial airliners. The flight school will eventually have 15 to 20 aircraft, both single-engine trainers and twin-engine trainers necessary for pilots to qualify to fly multi-engined aircraft.
Noe, a Marshall University graduate and lifelong pilot with 15,000 hours of flight time, is chief operating officer of NetJets, the world’s first and largest jet charter service. He has taken an active role in the development of the flight school that bears his name.
Sean Hill said supporting the flight school and Yeager Airport are part of the commission’s ongoing mission to further aviation in the Mountain State.
“This is a great moment for aviation in West Virginia,” Hill said. “I cannot commend Yeager Airport and Marshall University enough for bringing this concept to reality. Just think, a kid could play on the playground at this airport, look up and fall in love with aviation. They get a little bit older and enroll in this flight school, or at one of the technician programs across the state. The circle of inspiring future aviators is coming together with the completion of this school.
“A great benefit of today is that with Marshall University investing the time and resources in an aviation program, other universities and community technical colleges are opening their eyes to the potential at hand,” he said.