Brave New Program For KSU Pilots

A new field of study at the Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus will teach pilots to do what they have been previously been taught not to do, fly into tornadoes, fly into hurricanes, and fly 500 feet off the water.

K-State Salina and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) signed an agreement Friday to collaborate on a first-of-its kind program to prepare students to serve as officers and Commissioned Officer Corps (NOAA Corps), one of the nation’s eight uniformed services.

According to KSU, NOAA Corps officers pilot NOAA’s specialized aircraft and support a variety of missions, including hurricane research, reconnaissance and surveillance, marine mammal and snow surveys, coastal mapping and emergency response.

“Training Kansas State University pilots to serve in the NOAA Corps while pursuing their undergraduate degree streamlines the training process and produces skilled and specialized pilots,” said U.S. Senator Jerry Moran. ‚ÄúThis partnership between NOAA and Kansas State Aerospace and Technology Campus offers students an exciting new career opportunity conducting hurricane research, surveillance and emergency response as part of the corps. I was honored to play a role in creating this invaluable partnership.”

Under the agreement, NOAA and K-State Salina will develop an undergraduate program to equip students with the science, technology, engineering and math skills required to join the NOAA Corps The new program, to be piloted at the K-State Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus, will include dynamic flight training.

“We are excited to partner with K-State Salina on this groundbreaking academic program to prepare students for a successful career in the NOAA Corps,” said Rear Adm. Nancy Hann, deputy director of t NOAA Corps and NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO).


Currently, most NOAA Corps officers begin their careers serving aboard a NOAA ship with the opportunity to pilot NOAA aircraft following their sea tour if they meet the appropriate requirements. Under this new agreement, students who successfully complete the NOAA-K-State Salina aviation program and subsequent basic officer training at the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center in New don Connecticut, will immediately begin supporting NOAA flight operations.

NOAA and K-State Salina will issue a call for applications once the new program is fully developed. Meanwhile, the NOAA Corps continues to accept applications from anyone who meets the service’s basic eligibility requirements and is prepared to serve their country in uniform.

NOAA’s fleet of aircraft and ships is operated, managed and maintained by OMAO, which is composed of civilians and NOAA Corps officers. NOAA IS an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

K-State Salina has a modern fleet of more than 30 aircraft and is located adjacent to a 12,300-foot runway, K-State Salina’s training environment is ideal for preparing pilots for NOAA service. The wide variation in climate provides students flight experience in diverse weather such as high winds, convective activity, low visibility, heat and cold.


Senator Jerry Moran presents Rear Adm. Nancy Han with the legislation authorizing the new partnership.


Senator Jerry Moran and KSU Salina CEO and Dean Alysia Starkey celebrate the new partnership.