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The AP courses offered by UND Aerospace Sciences will be expanded to incorporate helicopter instruction in new schools



Grand Forks, North Dakota – One group of pilots is attempting a tried-and-true strategy to increase the interest of young people in the area due to a dearth of qualified workers in the airline business.

At high schools all around the state, the University of North Dakota will soon start offering more options for AP aviation classes.

Similar programs, known as the “Rotor Pathway Program,” are already in place for pilots of aircraft. Helicopters would be added as a new option under the program.

“We’d like to extend the opportunity to become a helicopter pilot not just to college students, but really starting at the high school level […] “said Wes Van Dell, UND’s Chief Helicopter Flight Instructor, “Our hope with this is that we have the opportunity to expand aviation curriculum and include a more rotor-craft specific curriculum to high schools across the state of North Dakota.”

Along with UND, Helicopter Association International is assisting in the program’s administration. North Dakota would be the second state to establish a rotor route program, according to association officials.

“The helicopter pilot and mechanic shortage is predicted to last another decade, so UND’s program is especially valuable, “said Dan Sweet, the Director of Public Relations and Communications at Helicopter Association International, “The airlines are facing the same shortages, but have more resources to address the issue. We think helicopters are a better choice because pilots get to fly missions, not routes. And both pilots and mechanics still have opportunities to work around the world, around the U.S., or in just one area close to home if they prefer.”

Among schools that presently offer aviation courses, dual credit possibilities for students based on helicopter education are anticipated to become accessible in the near future. Also, the initiative wants to reach additional high schools without aviation programs.