Story by Destiny Mizell / Contributing Writer
With a budget of $62 million dollars and three years to do it, Middle Tennessee State University plans to shift all student flight operations from the Murfreesboro Municipal Airport to the Shelbyville Municipal Airport.
It is no secret that in most cases, anyone could walk into an MTSU classroom and find at least one aerospace major of some sort. The program has boomed in recent years and does not look like it is stopping any time soon.
The university and Murfreesboro Airport agreed to conclude their nearly 75-year-old partnership to reduce air traffic and allow better access for non-student aviators. While Shelbyville is roughly 40 minutes away from campus and the Murfreesboro airport, officials like President Sidney McPhee explain that Shelbyville’s airport is much larger and will allow MTSU growing room.
“The large student body/small family feel is very apparent and without fail whenever I’m on campus and see someone from the pilot program. However, being in a program with several hundred students can be difficult,” professional pilot major Nathaniel Wilkie explained. “The biggest struggle is that MTSU only has 35 planes in our fleet, which can make it difficult to schedule flights with the busy student life. The flight school does it’s best accommodating the necessary training for students, but it isn’t ideal.”
Wilkie went on to say, “The move to the Shelbyville airport is necessary. With our program only continuing to expand, we need to find a way to create more space for our pilot students…We have been bursting at the seams for several years now.” He explained that if MTSU wants to continue to provide more than efficient education, expansion is a must. He also noted that the city of Murfreesboro didn’t provide any choice other than relocation.
The relocation will not go into effect for roughly three years. Academically, it will promote student learning and hands-on experience. Wilkie is, however, concerned with what the move will do to the social aspect of the student body involved in the program.
“My biggest concern is how separated students flying in Shelbyville will be from the rest of the student body…I fear that future pilot students will not have the same exposure to other students and get the full diverse experience of the MTSU student body. I have made many friends outside of the pilot program, and I hope future students are able to do the same,” Wilkie shared.
Both airports, cities and those in the program are hoping for nothing less than outstanding learning and experiences for aerospace majors.
(MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)
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