Sarah Tindell looks to the sky for her future career path, and she will soon take off in that direction with the help of OTC’s new aviation program.
Sarah, 16, is expected to be one of the first students to enroll in OTC’s aviation-focused associate degree program starting in the fall. The degree is being offered in association with Premier Flight Center LLC. Graduates of the program will be prepared to immediately enter the workforce as commercial pilots.
Being a pilot has been Sarah’s goal since she took her first introductory flight at Premier last year. “After my first flight, I fell in love with flying,” she said.
“With flying, I get to leave everything here behind. I focus on the moment. Being in control is quite the experience. I took off and realized that I’m actually doing this myself,” she said.
Sarah said she got the flying bug when she was growing up.
“I had a neighbor who was a corporate pilot for John Q. Hammons. He would tell us stories about flying. It sounded fun,” she said. “So, when I heard about the OTC aviation program, I thought that it was cool and I knew I should check it out.”
The aviation program will consist of ground school classes taught by OTC instructors at the OTC Springfield Campus while Premier Flight Center LLC will teach flight training at the former Springfield-Branson National Airport terminal.
“Starting an aviation program is exciting for the Springfield region and OTC,” said Matthew Hudson, OTC’s director of technical education. “We have a fantastic partnership with the Springfield-Branson National airport, strong support from industry experts, and a market of willing students ready to train and enter into aviation as a career choice.”
Dustin Thomason, 33, of Springfield sells and delivers beverages but is ready to change careers and wants to enter OTC’s aviation program.
“My dream is to be an airline pilot. I’ve always wanted to fly,” said Dustin, who has been taking lessons for a number of years. “I heard about the new program and immediately contacted the school. I was planning to move from Springfield to go to a flight school but this meets my needs exactly.”
Corina Everhart-Bond, director of business operations for Premier, said the program will fill a need in the region.
“Our community has needed a flight school like this for quite some time, and we’re proud to be a part of something that has never been in this region before. Our industry desperately needs pilots. This is a great avenue for any student to complete the program and follow a dream,” she said.
Sarah said her dream is to fly commercial airlines for a living.
“It will become a career for me. It wasn’t always my choice. I was interested in interior design and artistic stuff. But flying just clicked so I went for it,” she said. “My friends are excited for me. The program is new to me and being in the first group will be pretty cool. It’s really neat that it’s something being offered at OTC.”
An aviation open house will be held April 13 from 4-8 p.m. at the Premier Flight Center, 5000 W. Kearney STE 110. Representatives from OTC, Premier and other aviation staff will be there to answer questions about the program.
Registration for the OTC program begins April 28. For more information, go to otc.edu/aviation.