Virtual Reality Pilot Training Developer Supports Partner University Cadet Pilot
The University of Central Missouri’s role in helping to address a national pilot shortage and to fill other vital positions in the aviation field through training is benefitting from the School of Aviation’s relationships with organizations that share the same interest. Among such groups, VTR (Visionary Training Resources) recently made a financial gift to help a UCM student reduce a portion of the expenses needed toward earning a Commercial Pilot Certificate.
The $500 scholarship was presented Jan. 31 at the T. Raleigh Gaines Technology Building, where many of the aviation courses are taught and a Boeing 737 flight simulator serves as an important tool in the preparation of tomorrow’s professional pilots. Matthew Furedy, chair of the School of Aviation, and Andy Multer, assistant professor and graduate coordinator for the aviation program, accepted the gift. This first award is going to a UCM senior aviation major from Kansas City, Blake Witthar, to help cover the cost for a checkride, which is an oral exam followed by a flight that is essential to obtaining the Commercial Pilot rating.
Lisa Matthews, director of Business Development for VTR, said the financial award is in recognition of the relationship the company has with UCM. This includes working on previous projects, currently providing an internship opportunity for one of the university’s aviation students, and working with UCM alumni who are involved in the aviation field. VTR specializes in building virtual flight decks to help in pilot training.
Matthews said making scholarships available to students, particularly those who are underrepresented in the field, is an effort that is strongly supported by VTR’s top leadership, including VTR co-founder and CEO Evey Cormican, who has had a long career as an airline captain. According to Matthews, Cormican expressed that “it is very important to her to not only carry aviation forward but to make sure anyone who needs a helping hand for any reason is given that opportunity.” Providing financial resources to assist with certification is among her priorities.
Pleased by VTR’s support for students to obtain the professional ratings they need for their careers, Furedy said, “Aviation is an expensive endeavor to get into. Anything we can do to assist students through that process without them incurring more debt is a big win.”
Matthews and Amanda Kunze, relationship manager for VTR, were joined in the presentation by Travis Clark, who graduated from UCM’s aviation program in 2001, and after receiving his professional certifications, embarked on an aviation career. While he and his wife live on a cattle farm in Brinktown, Missouri, he currently flies Boeing 757 and 767 commercial airplanes for a major US airline, based out of Newark, New Jersey. Also joining them was VTR intern Joanna Bachtal, who is a UCM aviation management major. Originally from Houston, Texas, she came to the Warrensburg area with her husband who is stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base.
Bachtal noted, “I have been really excited about VTR while learning about the owner and co-founder of the company, Evey. How much she inspires women to pursue things has appealed to me as a student, particularly being in aviation and being a minority here.”
While Clark is active as a commercial airlines pilot, he also serves VTR on a consulting basis. As a university alumnus, he was excited about the company’s support for UCM students. He said individuals who may not be familiar with UCM’s long history in preparing pilots may consider the university an underdog in comparison to larger institutions that are specifically known for aviation. After many years spent in the cockpit, however, he realizes the great value of his UCM education.
“We’re not this huge facility with all this income coming in that we can pump out to students, but the quality of our education has always been top-notch,” he said.
Support from private organizations such as VTR is essential to helping UCM aviation continue this longstanding reputation.
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