GOV 1 has landed on the lawn between the Art + Design Building and the Sundquist Science Complex.
GOV 1, a Guimbal Cabri G2, is the first helicopter in APSU’s rotor wing fleet to land on campus. The fleet currently contains two Guimbal Cabri G2s and will soon acquire one Robinson R44.
When the helicopter landed, those in attendance were offered the opportunity to see GOV 1 up close and even sit inside it.
The ceremonial landing came after a three-day flight across the country from Oregon to Outlaw Field in Clarksville.
The journey of GOV 1 was piloted by Charles Weigandt.
- “The high altitude stuff was probably the biggest challenge. This is a very capable aircraft but at the same time, it is a small helicopter. It doesn’t have a turbine engine. So, it is somewhat power limited,” Weigandt said.
The highest point Weigandt went over was 9,200 feet. The highest landing he made was Rock Springs, Wyoming which was at 6,800 feet. The journey was accompanied by beautiful weather according to Weigandt.
He is a 24-year U.S. Army veteran, founding member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and director of APSU’s new Bachelor of Science degree in the aviation science program, with a concentration in rotor wing.
The ceremony included a press conference to mark the start of the new program.
This type of program is the first and only one of its kind in the state and one of three in all of the states surrounding Tennessee, as the others are in Georgia and one in Alabama.
“It’s always an exciting time when a university kicks off a program. This particular kickoff is exciting because we’re going to have a helicopter that’s going to land right behind me and I won’t be on it,” President White said.
While Weigandt has expressed in his excitement for the program an admiration for the benefits he feels the program will bring both the veteran and general population he is most excited for one thing.
“The flying part. Obviously. That’s what I’m looking forward to,” Weigandt said.
Weigandt, a 14-year contract flight instructor with a master’s degree in military history from APSU, began his new role at APSU on Tuesday, May 1.
The aviation program advertised its degree’s ability to help veterans and Fort Campbell pilots transition out of the military, as well as traditional students, pursue competitive careers in flight instruction, aerial tourism, charter operations and other professions in aviation.
“This rotary wing program is the next possibility, and it’s going to help not only our military-affiliated students but also our other students in the same community we’re so happy and proud to be a part of,” APSU’s military advisor in residence, retired Brigadier General Scott E. Brower said.
Though there are other training programs in the state for obtaining FAA Commercial Pilot and Flight instructor certification, APSU stands out in that it is the only one which is coupled with a bachelor’s degree to make graduates more competitive in the career market.
The APSU Aviation Science program is staffed by full-time faculty and will be taught at Outlaw Field, Clarksville Regional Airport.
“Without Outlaw Field helping us we couldn’t do this,” White said.
The program, according to White, has been in the works since 2014 or 2015.
“It’s really an academic affairs initiative and so Provost Gandy started looking at feasibility and then the dean, who was Dr. Jaime Taylor at the time, and then when he moved to a different role, Dr. Karen Meisch and Dr. Kristine Nakutis really did the heavy lifting to develop this program,” White said.
On April 2, 2018, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, (SACSCOC) the region’s higher education accrediting body, approved the program.
Though the program is starting to appear fully realized as staff, location and aircraft assemble, it is still not completely ready.
The Department of Veterans Affair, Title IV and U.S. Department of Education approval are still pending.