Faulty members and some of the program’s certified flight instructors flew the planes late last week from Piper’s headquarters in Vero Beach, Florida, to TSTC’s airport. The group made stops in Panama City, Florida and Baton Rouge, Louisiana before arriving in Waco.
Jacob Teat was one of the certified flight instructors who flew a plane. He said flying from Florida to Texas was the longest distance he had ever flown.
“It was amazing,” he said about the plane he flew.
Teat said some of the plane’s features he likes are the dual access auto pilot system and dual yokes. He said the planes feature Garmin G3X Touch flight displays, also known as a glass cockpit, that show air speed, air traffic, altitude, pitch, temperature and other information needed to successfully fly. The planes also feature the Garmin G5 electronic flight instrument.
“I’m so ready to teach,” Teat said. “I get to bring the glass cockpit to the students.”
Michael Lairson, a program certified flight instructor, also took part in flying the planes to Waco.
Lairson had some experience using a glass cockpit before flying in a Piper airplane. He said it takes some getting used to the advanced technology.
“These are going to be awesome,” Lairson said. “I can’t wait to show students the new technology they can get their hands on.”
Some of the other features on the planes include synthetic vision, the Garmin SafeTaxi system, LED wing tip lights and vinyl floor covering. Each plane can hold 48 gallons of fuel, according to information from Piper.
Program certified flight instructors and students will begin using the new airplanes in the spring semester.
Angel Newhart, TSTC’s director of Aircraft Pilot Training Technology, said the planning process for the new planes began about five years ago. She said the program has never undergone a full fleet replacement.
Newhart said within two years the program will have 10 additional Piper airplanes to complete the new fleet.
“This sets us up for the next 20 years,” she said.
TSTC’s Aircraft Pilot Training Technology has been teaching students to fly for 55 years.
Registration continues for the spring semester. For more information, go to tstc.edu.