SUU Academics Take Flight with New Pilot Program

Published: May 17, 2013 | Read Time: 3 minutes

Southern Utah University academics will take to the air this fall when the University opens a new aviation program through a partnership with private aviation company Upper Limit Aviation (ULA). The Utah State Board of Regents approved the new associate of applied science degree in aerospace/aviation technology on Friday, April 17.

Offering instruction for professional pilot licensure on rotor-wing and fixed-wing aircraft, the program will provide theory-and application-based courses in aviation meteorology, aerodynamics, safety and instrument procedures for both helicopter and fixed-wing pilot training. Both the rotor-wing and fixed wing pilot tracks will share a common core of general education and general aviation courses, as well as specialized flight labs involving simulators and aircraft, housed at the Cedar City Airport.

“Students will be able to experience more through this program then they could anywhere else,” explained ULA Vice President Gordon Birch, who was largely instrumental in bringing the program to SUU.

An SUU alumnus, Birch is familiar with the University’s academic strengths and structure and knew the partnership between SUU and ULA would create a much more comprehensive program than either entity could have created single-handedly.

Of this, Birch said, “Between Cedar City’s mountainous terrain, a program that stays on the cutting edge of aviation technology and a University nationally recognized for its experiential learning, and you have a learning experience second to none.”

There are upwards of 300 viable days annually for safe flights in and out of Cedar City.

According to SUU Provost Bradley J. Cook, the public/private partnership is what will distinguish SUU’s aerospace/aviation program, as the majority of flight schools are independent and only a few are connected to colleges.

“By connecting with a university, students will leave not only with their pilots license but also with an associate’s degree. With an ever increasing need for pilots, this program will give students a competitive edge you can’t find anywhere else,” said Cook. 

The University and the Federal Aviation Association will oversee the program, taught by Upper Limit Aviation. Michael Mower, the new flight director for SUU’s aerospace/aviation program, said this collaborative approach will ensure students receive the very best training available.

What’s more, Mower and his colleagues all agree the location is ideal for such instruction. “Cedar City is situated at the base of the mountains, and within five minutes you are in the mountains. This high altitude training is crucial to obtaining your license and students will be getting that every time they’re in the air.”

Though the program is open to all interested students, the program’s administrators view SUU’s aviation program as a huge benefit to veterans across the region. Through the Post 9/11 GI Bill, a veteran’s full tuition and fees are paid for to receive both a pilot license and an associate degree.

It is this addition of more military veterans that excites University administrators, said Provost Cook. “By having more veterans at our school and in our community, our economy will be boosted and a more mature dimension will be added to campus. The need for pilots is going to continue to grow, and, together, SUU and ULA will fill that need.”

Operating out of Salt Lake City, Utah, Upper Limit Aviation has been educating pilots for more than 10 years. ULA currently employs more than 100 staff and instructors; more will be added for this new partnership.

Students interested in attending the new aerospace/aviation technology program at SUU must first apply and be admitted to SUU. The SUU Admissions office is prepared to field questions about admission to the University and new aviation program: 435-586-7740. Potential students who have questions regarding veteran’s benefits should contact SUU veteran’s coordinator, Christina Byrnes, at 435-586-7715 or

Contact Information:

Contact the Office of Marketing Communication

This article was published more than 5 years ago and might contain outdated information or broken links. As a result, its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.