Carroll University’s Got Wings

By Kara Burke
Staff Reporter


A Picture from one of Kevin McMahon’s final introductory flights. The image was taken while flying over Carroll University last fall.

A Picture from one of Kevin McMahon’s final introductory flights. The image was taken while flying over Carroll University last fall.

The Department of Computational Sciences is starting an Aviation Science Minor, and an Aviation Club starting fall of 2015; this new opportunity will give students a chance to gain their wings.

When students enroll at Carroll, they fully expect canonical fields, such as a nursing major or an English major, not classes in aviation. Kevin McMahon is one of the creators of the program and has always had an interest in aviation. “English, History or Mathematics. Those are all the expected programs that you would find at a university, but Aviation Science is something you say, ‘don’t they do that somewhere else?” stated McMahon. McMahon is currently completing his private pilots certification. McMahon’s interest in aviation science has given him a new outlook on what the field has to offer. Since McMahon is completing his certification, he will be able to relate to students in the program.

Retired Navy Captain, Tim Tyre, is also a lead in the program. Capt. Tyre has his pilot’s certificate and is a flight instructor. He is an instructor at Spring City Aviation and has worked there since 2003. Capt. Tyre is Chief pilot for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, flying search and rescue flights and emergency government photo missions.  Capt. Tyre also teaches and directs the aviation science program at St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy. With a background in multiple different aspects of the aviation field, Capt. Tyre brings a wealth of knowledge with his military background and commercial experience from his post military flights. Capt. Tyre will teach the four aviation courses offered at Carroll.

The minor consists of six courses: four aviation classes (101, 102, 201, 202) and two environmental science courses. There is going to be a lab section offered that is optional. The lab would allow students to get a more hands on experience at Spring City Aviation, a flight school, in Waukesha County Airport. “There is a sequence of introductory and advanced classes leading to preparation for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) content exams required for private pilot certification, instrument pilot rating and commercial pilot certification. There are also supplemental required minor classes in meteorology and navigational earth science,” stated Capt. Tyre.

An important part of ground school is problem solving. Incoming pilots will be put through different situations and be asked to resolve them quickly. “It’s all about thinking 10 steps ahead, or pre-planning, or asking a lot of questions,” McMahon explained. “ Like what do you do if the clouds come in, where do you fly if there is a problem, where do you land a plane in an emergency?”

The Aviation minor is not just for students who are going to be pilots. “In 101 there will be talk about career development. For example a business major might be interested in going in to airport management,” stated McMahon. Student can minor in the field, not only for a possible career choice, but for a recreational purposes. The minor can give students who would like to work in Air Traffic Control a chance to understand the pilot language and the way airplanes function. Right now, the minor is not about producing commercial pilots who will work for major companies. Its purpose is to teach students what the aviation field can offer.

There are many advantages for students who are interested in the minor. These include the opportunity to complete training in recreational, private, and commercial levels and obtain internships in each of these fields. Ron Burke, experienced commercial airline pilot for 27 years, explains the difference between recreational, private, and commercial pilots: “Recreational pilots can only fly 4 people and only during the day. Private pilots fly for pleasure or for personal business. Lastly, commercial pilots are the ones who fly major companies, like United Airlines,” stated Burke. These opportunities could lead to employment in airport management, commercial aviation, military aviation, and aircraft maintenance. Airlines are looking for pilots that have more than just an aviation science major. For example, pilots with majors in both physics and aviation will appear more qualified to potential employers than those with only an aviation science major.

The Aviation Club allows students who cannot participate in the minor a place to gain desired knowledge about the field. McMahon provides some advice for students deciding if they want to pick up the minor: “It’s a social thing, where people with like interests meet, but our plan is that our club will organize some talks where professionals can come in and speak. It is a chance for students to ask professionals about how they got there and gain connections.”  Capt. Tyre will be the advisor for the club which will meet twice a month starting in September.

Author: Kara Burke

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