John and Kim Vanier, Salina, have given funds to help Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus acquire new airplanes to update the fleet.
The Vaniers’ gift, combined with other funds, will enable the Aerospace and Technology Campus to purchase and maintain 15 new planes in the first phase of updating the 30-plane fleet. The fleet is a combination of single-engine and multi-engine planes. A composite aircraft is also included in the new fleet, giving students the experience of flying a plane made of different materials than metal. The fleet will have planes from two manufacturers, so students can diversify their training experience, which better prepares them for future careers. The Vaniers’ gift also funds the renovation of the hangars.
John Vanier graduated from K-State in 1981 with a degree in agricultural economics. He developed his love of flying while in college under the tutelage of the chief pilot for his grandfather’s company, ADM Milling. As residents of Salina, the Vaniers support K-State Salina because of their love for the community and appreciation for what the campus contributes to the Salina community.
“K-State is committed to having a state-of-the-art aviation program,” Vanier said. “Everywhere you turn, there’s a coming pilot shortage. If you’re going to train pilots for airlines, which is most of the students’ aspiration, you have to prepare them for it. When students visit to see if they want to enroll in our program, they need to see a good-looking hanger and aircraft that have state-of-the-art avionics. If we aren’t continually improving, we’re going to be left behind and I don’t want to see that happen.”
The updated fleet and improved facilities are a boon to the Aerospace and Technology Campus and to the future pilots trained there.
“The new, modern flight-training fleet provides the diversity of experience employers are looking for from students coming out of a collegiate aviation program,” said Alysia Starkey, dean and CEO of Kansas State University Aerospace and Technology Campus. “The gift of an updated fleet means we can provide a consistent student training experience across all aircraft in our flight training program. This enables us to train our pilots to be able to walk into whatever career is waiting for them prepared to work right away.”