DANIELS, W.Va. — Marshall University’s plans for an aviation program took off Friday with a vote by Marshall’s Board of Governors to create two degree programs.

Marshall University

Jerome Gilbert

The aviation science programs, which will include degrees associated with fixed-wing (airplanes) and rotor-wing (helicopters), will be administered at Marshall’s South Charleston campus and Yeager Airport in Charleston, university officials said.

Marshall announced a Memorandum of Agreement with Southern Utah University (SUU) in February to cooperate in exploring options to jointly offer a four-year bachelor’s degree in aviation.

According to a Friday news release, under the partnership with SUU, Marshall will share SUU’s Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) certification and SSU will work with Marshall on academic matters.

“Both schools will participate in national recruitment efforts, with SUU focusing on the western part of the country and Marshall on the eastern section,” the release said.

“There is a huge demand for pilots across the United States,” Marshall President Jerome Gilbert said. “As an industry, a commercial pilot is the only profession with a federally mandated retirement age. Marshall is poised to meet the educational requirements with these new programs.”

All classes will be taught at Marshall’s South Charleston campus where a residence hall will be built to house the students in the program, officials said.

Yeager Airport Manager Terry Sayre told MetroNews Friday it’s a great opportunity for both Marshall and Yeager.

“This will bring students from all over the country, all over the world, to train as pilots and other aviation management programs. It’s all new money to West Virginia. We think it’s really great,” Sayre said.

Marshall plans to construct a few new buildings at Yeager for hangar space and FAA-required laboratories and computer facilities. Sayre said it’s land that’s been home to private aircraft and Yeager’s fixed base operator, which Yeager now operates itself. There’s currently a new road under construction, Opportunity Way, to the area where the new buildings will be constructed.

“It’s (the area) going to be opened up once this road is completed next month and it should turn out really good. We’re excited about the Marshall venture here and Marshall having a school here is really, really good for the airport,” Sayre said.

Southern Utah University has 300 students in its aviation program.

“Could you imagine 300 new people coming in here from other areas to learn how to fly or to take aviation management classes? What an impact that would have on the local economy,” Sayre said.

The state is helping Yeager with preparing the property. Sayre said a ramp has to built to accommodate the aircraft that will be used.

Marshall plans to start the program in the fall of 2021.