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Marshall University adds rotor-wing component to aviation programme
Adding the H125 to its current fleet, as well as a futuristic simulator for rotor-wing training, will allow current and future aviators to pursue a wider range of certifications.
Marshall University unveils the H125 that it will use on its aviation training programme.

West Virginia's Marshall University has celebrated the arrival of an Airbus H125 that is set to propel its aviation programme forward through rotor-wing education. The helicopter arrived at West Virginia International Yeager airport right on schedule for the unveiling ceremony at the on-site Bill Noe Flight School. The aircraft was piloted by Marshall chief aviation officer Bill Noe and Nick King, senior manager with Airbus, and carried a number of passengers including Marshall University president Brad D Smith and university mascot Marco.

"We are incredibly excited to add this amazing aircraft to our aviation programme," says Smith. "We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our esteemed partners at Airbus for their unwavering support and collaboration, which have propelled Marshall's aviation programme to soaring heights, making it one of the premier flight schools in the country. I cannot wait to see what tomorrow holds."

Airbus Helicopters partnered with Marshall to provide the helicopter, which is considered too be a multi-mission workhorse.

"The future success of the rotorcraft industry depends on providing the next generation with high-quality education and training, and Marshall University has become the benchmark for doing so," says Treg Manning, vice president of sales and marketing for Airbus Helicopters North America. "The H125's mission versatility and advanced safety features make it one of the most popular helicopters worldwide, and we are confident it will serve as an invaluable tool in the training of students at Marshall University."

Bill Noe, Marshall chief aviation officer and namesake of the flight school, says: "Being able to partner with a name synonymous with aviation excellence like Airbus is something that we are very proud of. These helicopters will provide training for up and coming helicopter pilots and transitional and continuous training for helicopter pilots associated with Marshall's aviation programme in the region and beyond.

"Adding this helicopter to our current robust fleet, as well as a futuristic simulator for rotor-wing training, will allow current and future aviators to pursue a wider range of certifications. These skills and ratings will position pilots in various industries that use aircraft and helicopters. In an area like West Virginia and Appalachia, where the terrain is challenging, helicopters are incredibly important to business and health care."

The university has already employed its first certified helicopter instructor. Bruce Ray, a former career military helicopter pilot, industry professional and Marshall University graduate, has logged thousands of hours flying the H125.

"We are fulfilling the flying dreams of students whose parents and grandparents wished for that opportunity," says Ray. "I'm looking forward to using the aircraft for training and anticipate there will be a lot of people interested."

Ray and Noe praised the work of Nancy Ritter, Marshall's chief of aviation operations, for her work in getting the rotor training opportunity off the ground.

The university is also partnering with Loft Dynamics to offer aviation instruction through a innovative simulator. The equipment is currently under FAA review and, once approved, most likely this summer, will become the first in the nation to use VR technology in a commercial aviation training.

During the unveiling ceremony, Noe introduced the first student to be trained as a helicopter pilot. Gabe Mileto is currently a student at North Marion High School in northern West Virginia and is expected to be a future aviator.

Marshall offers two career paths: a four year pilot programme; and the Aviation Maintenance Technology programme that trains mechanics. Both programmes lead to FAA certification.

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