BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge Community College is expanding its aviation program and will offer helicopter pilot certification classes starting this fall.
BRCC staff said the school was recently named a center of transportation excellence and this program is the first of many new courses.
"Most everyone gets to the world from one point of view and becoming a helicopter pilot, you get to see the world from an entirely different angle," said CJ Schneider with Guidance Aviation.
Over six semesters, Guidance Aviation flight staff, like Schneider, will work with students who are interested in seeing the world from up above through Baton Rouge Community College's helicopter pilot training program.
"We're going to be going from different air spaces - aerodynamics, airport operations, a bunch of weather. We're going to really dig deep into meteorology and things that will make you a better pilot, make you a safer pilot," Schneider explained.
BRCC staff members said they decided to add this certification to their list of offered courses because of increased demand across the country for chopper pilots. Flight instructors say many Vietnam-era pilots are retiring, paving the way for the next generation. And along the Gulf Coast, there are many jobs for helicopter pilots, transporting workers to and from oil rigs.
While the program will help to fill the aviation industry's need for more helicopter pilots, BRCC staff said it will also do tremendous things for economic growth in Baton Rouge and across the region.
"With just the federal funding that will come to the airport because of the numbers of takeoffs and landings," Monique Cross with Baton Rouge Metro Airport added.
Cross said there's already been a big interest in this type of program, particularly from young veterans. BRCC is a yellow ribbon school under the Veterans Administration, meaning vets from anywhere in the country will be able to use their benefits to enroll in the program.
We're told 25 people are enrolled to start classes in August. If you can't get registered by August, BRCC will start a new group of students on the path to becoming pilots each semester.