Parkland College aviation makes nationals

Jacob Kenter

Staff Writer

The Parkland College Institute of Aviation will not let their size hold them down, despite being a relatively small organization with only about 40 students in the program, according to Wendy Evans, an Aviation Recruiter for the program. Recently, the institute competed in a regional aviation competition.

The Chief Pilot and Director of aviation, Sybil Phillips said that she and her staff were a little pressed for time seeing that they only had four weeks to prepare for the competition. Despite the fact that they didn’t have much time the team managed to take home third place, which was good enough to get them into the national Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON) competition in the spring. Phillips said that Parkland has a bit of a disadvantage because most of the schools that they compete against are four-year institutions, so they have more time to train students. Even with the disadvantage, she believes that Parkland will do better in the national SAFECON because they have much more time to prepare for the national completion that they did for the region competition.

Since the aviation program is so small they are always trying to attract new students to the program.

Photo courtesy of Parkland College’s Institute of Aviation

Photo courtesy of Parkland College’s Institute of Aviation

“This is a great time to have a degree in aviation, because students with a degree in aviation are going to see unprecedented job opportunities in the near future,” Phillips said.

There are many jobs a student with a degree in aviation can get including government and private sector work, and to get the degree does not take much more time commitment that what a typical degree would take to get.

Evans explained that to get a private pilot license, it would only take two semesters. For those wishing to fly commercially, it takes two years (or six semesters) then must reach the necessary flight hours (1000 to 1500) depending on the degree earned.

Students who enroll in the program will be in great hands, as the Director and Chief Pilot recently won the award for “Coach of the Year” at the region eight competition.

“The award really goes to the entire staff for the work they put in to get ready for the competition in such short time,” Phillips said.

Phillips and her staff have effectively prepared all of their students for completion and for future careers in the field of aviation; now their goal is to increase the number of students in the program. They plan on doing this by sending recruiters to all major fairs to get information out there about the program.

A big thing that is going for students that enroll in the aviation program is the positive job outlook. According to Evans, “the industry is desperately looking to fill some 18,000 or so pilots over the next seven years. Some say that number maybe conservative as the many current pilots are reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65.”

To find out more about the aviation program at Parkland College, visit