* Southern Utah University unveils 17 new aircraft for aviation program during ‘Red Rally’ celebration
CEDAR CITY – Things at Southern Utah University are starting to take off with the addition of 17 new aircrafts to their newly acquired aviation program.
On Saturday night the school unveiled the 10 Cirrus SR-20 airplanes and seven Robinson R-44 helicopters and two flight simulators.
Our media partner St. George News was at the event and captured the “Red Rally” which let the public take a glimpse at the University’s aviation program. It also featured a red ribbon cutting by Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson to commemorate the new program.
“What it really means is it’s a step forward in our commitment to the students,” SUU aviation program Executive Director Mike Mower said. “SUU’s commitment to its students is amazing and that’s perfectly demonstrated right here. The University as a whole has really supported this program.”
According to St. George News the University is committed to “putting pilots in cockpits all over the country and perhaps the world.”
SUU took the program over last year and St. George News says it is now entirely self-funded using its own money to purchase the new aircrafts.
Mower didn’t elaborate on the equipment’s actual cost but a memorandum sent last March to the Utah Board of Regents estimates a cost up to $11.5 million.
A year ago, SUU was renting and leasing their planes and helicopters. The school says these new ones will be paid off in seven years.
“We found out that we can have better quality aircraft and safer aircraft,” Wyatt said, “and it cost(s) less for the students.”
St. George News reported that the old equipment was not only costing the school more money but dangerous.
“We were operating aircraft that were 20 to 30 years old and they were breaking down,” Mower said, “not to mention they were costing us a lot of money. These aircraft are not costing us any more than the old ones were and they’re new. In fact, they will cost us less in the long run because we won’t have the expensive upkeep that the older equipment requires.”