Middle Tennessee State University's aerospace department has been selected by Textron Aviation to receive a new Cessna aircraft as part of their Top Hawk program for 2018.
Textron Aviation will provide a new 2018 Cessna Skyhawk 172, considered the most popular training aircraft in the world, for use by the university to support pilot training, promote general aviation and connect future pilots to higher education.
Through the Top Hawk program, MTSU has use of the new custom-branded plane from February to September.
Flight instructors within the Department of Aerospace will showcase general aviation throughout the region as MTSU attends air shows, participates in summer camps for teens and teachers, hosts a number of aviation days with area high schools, as well as participate in the Air Race Classic.
"We could not be more excited to partner with Textron Aviation as part of this program," said Nicholas Lenczycki, MTSU Flight Operations program manager.
"Textron is a world-class organization, known throughout the world for their capable aircraft," he added. "To be able to provide our students and community an opportunity to explore general aviation with the latest technology is just another example of how MTSU provides high quality experiences to our students."
In addition to several regional airshows, MTSU plans to attend the 44th Sun 'n Fun International Fly-in & Expo in Lakeland, Florida, in April. As one of the largest airshows in the country, Sun 'n Fun hosts more than 200,000 guests from 60 countries.
"Sun 'n Fun is an opportunity for MTSU to reach students in a new way," said Lenczycki. "While we normally have a booth at Oshkosh, the largest fly-in in the country, being able to fly into an airshow of the magnitude of Sun 'n Fun is going to attract a lot of attention for the university."
Meanwhile, the Air Race Classic is an all-women cross-country air race. Race teams, consisting of at least two female pilots, must fly under visual flight rules during daylight hours only and are given four days to make flybys at each en route timing point and then land at the terminus.
The 2018 race begins June 19 in Sweetwater, Texas, and ends in Fryeburg, Maine.
The MTSU team will use the Cessna Skyhawk as their race aircraft.
"The Top Hawk is a great opportunity for the MTSU aerospace department," said Elizabeth Keller, a senior in aerospace and one of pilots for next year's Air Race Classic. "I can't wait to use the plane for the air race next summer, but, beyond that, I'm excited to use the Top Hawk to spread the word about aviation and the incredible aerospace program MTSU offers. We can't thank Cessna enough!"
Established in 1942, MTSU's aerospace department in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences has grown into one of the most respected aerospace programs in the nation. Fifteen full-time faculty members, 35 flight instructors, and more than 700 majors places it among the largest of the nation's collegiate aviation programs.
Aerospace majors choose among six concentrations: aviation administration, aerospace technology, flight dispatch, maintenance management, professional pilot and unmanned aircraft systems operations. A master's degree in aviation administration, with concentrations in aviation education, aviation management and aviation safety and security management is also offered.
The Top Hawk program is in its fourth year. Joining MTSU as participants in the 2018 program are the University of Dubuque, Lewis University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott and California Aeronautical University.
Textron Aviation Inc., a Textron Inc. company, is home to the Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker brands, which account for more than half of all general aviation aircraft flying. Its principal lines of business include business jets, general aviation and special mission turboprop aircraft, high performance piston aircraft, military trainer and defense aircraft and a complete global customer service organization.