Aviation students fly into fall quarter

October 5, 2017


Andrew Bell

Staff Reporter | agb022@latech.edu


Mitchell Spillers, a freshman aviation major, begins his simulation with Major Jared Housand giving guidance and assistance. – Photo by Brian Blakely

Aviation students landed on their feet to begin the 2017 fall quarter by attending a flight simulation lesson.


The event, which was made possible by the Marine Corps, was held Sept. 12 in the parking lot between Davison Hall and the biomedical engineering building. The simulator was propped up right next to a flat screen television, which portrayed the aircraft the students were controlling to provide the most vivid and life-like replication possible.


First Lieutenant Dustin Blanchard, officer recruiter with the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Baton Rouge, said this was a great opportunity for the aviation students who attended to speak about their future flying endeavors with the U.S. Marine Corps Aviation Program.


“A lot of people don’t know that the Marine Corps has an aviation program that you can actually apply for,” Blanchard said. “When people think about being a pilot, they think of the Air Force or the Navy, but the Marines are actually the only branch that can offer you a guaranteed spot in flight school.”


This marks the first time that the Marine Corps has brought the flight simulator on campus, but Blanchard said he hopes this could become a regular occurrence.


“This gives (the students) a different platform to fly,” Blanchard said. “They’re used to flying Cessnas. This is an F-18, so it’s a little different to fly than a Cessna.”


A Cessna is a general aircraft used in aviation classes, as opposed to the F-18, which can be used as a fighter jet.


Aviation students were not the only students to fill the role of pilot for a day. There were two students whose majors had almost nothing to do with aviation who still wanted to experience the uniqueness of the simulator.


Zachary Smith, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, happened to have a pilot’s license and was intrigued by the idea of flying such a life-like aircraft.


“I’ve always been interested in aviation,” Smith said. “So, with the simulator being here, I thought I’d explore this route with the Marines. Getting to talk with the recruiters was a big draw for me, but I just couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to fly an F-18.”


John Toups, a sophomore business major, did not have any previous affiliation with aviation but but he decided to attend due to a common interest with his grandfather.


“My grandpa has always been super into planes and everything and it was something we’ve always kind of talked about,” Toups said. “So being able to just come out here and do what we’ve fantasized about was really awesome.”


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