Alabama Aviation College receives $2.5M grant


By Mary Grady


Congress voted on Thursday to extend FAA funding, which was set to expire on Saturday, for six months. The extension allows more time for debate whether air traffic control should be privatized, and whether changes should be made in the requirements for commercial pilots. GA advocates were quick to weigh in. “We thank members of Congress for passing an extension ensuring the FAA remains open and authorized for the next six months, as we requested in the letter sent to congressional transportation leaders earlier this month,” said GAMA President Pete Bunce in a news release on Thursday afternoon.

“GAMA urges Congress to now focus on passing bipartisan, consensus-driven FAA reauthorization legislation that addresses many critical aviation issues, such as aircraft certification reform and continued implementation of on-schedule modernization programs. They should reject air traffic control privatization proposals, including Title II of H.R. 2997, which are divisive, distracting and fraught with risks.”

NBAA also welcomed the vote. “While NBAA has always supported passage of a long-term FAA reauthorization bill, we appreciate that congressional leaders have taken this important step to provide an extension of FAA funding and operating authority, so that the agency can continue to have the resources needed for its critical safety, infrastructure and other programs,” said President Ed Bolen in a statement. Funding for the FAA under the current authorization expires on Saturday, and both the House and Senate continue to debate reauthorization for the agency.

Advocates of privatization ATC and those who use its services would benefit by being relieved of this annual debate over funding, but many GA advocacy groups say privatization would result in the airlines having too much control over the system, to the detriment of business aviation and private flyers. The extension approved by Congress on Thursday expires on March 31, 2018.


An Afternoon At The Airport

VINEMONT – Cullman Regional Airport hosted “An Aviation Afternoon at the Airport” Wednesday to showcase the airport and share plans for some upcoming additions.  The airport provides many services to the Cullman area.  It is equipped to handle a large variety of aircraft, from corporate jets and turboprops to industry needing cargo brought in and shipped out. It also caters to private pilots and aviation enthusiasts of all kinds. The airport serves local businesses’ personnel and cargo transport needs and hosts the Wallace State Community College Aviation program, Skydive Alabama, Air Evac Lifeteam, Alabama State Troopers and the Cullman City Police Department.  General Manager Ben Harrison shared his thoughts on the airport’s role in the community.  “We’re the airport of the community, so what the airport does is it drives an economic development factor in the community. We host companies that are coming in to do economic development within the community,” Harrison said. “We also have industries here like Air Evac, the State Troopers, the police department and Skydive Alabama, so do we have a driver of business here at the airport.”  Wednesday’s event highlighted the recently completed south taxiway and plans for the north taxiway. In July, the Cullman City Council passed three resolutions to make improvements at the airport.  Two of the three authorized the first phase of a two-year project to improve the airport’s taxiway, while the third set the stage for continuation and completion of the project in 2018.  “Phase one is basically going to be directly in front of the terminal.  We’ve got some issues where our connector between the apron and taxiway are not large enough, so we’re going to reconstruct that connector, and then reconstruct the base of the taxiway to hold up larger aircraft,” said Harrison at the time. “We have a runway that will hold a heavier aircraft, we have an apron that will hold a heavier aircraft; we just have to get the taxiway connected to them.”  The scope of the project is large enough to be carried out in two parts, based on the fiscal calendar.  Harrison continued in July, “So, the way it’s going to have to go, with the length of the taxiway, it’s going to be a two-phase project.  Phase two will be the next fiscal year: wherever we leave off with phase one, we’ll just pick up with phase two.” On Wednesday, Harrison shared, “The north taxiway is going to be the next project, it’s going to be a two-phase project because of what all is going to have to go into that to make it a structurally sound project. So once we get the north taxiway done then we’ll start on the runway. We still have an extension in the plan but we had to push that out a bit further to get some of this other stuff done.”  This year’s project builds upon another recently-completed project on the south taxiway.  “The south taxiway is totally complete,” Harrison told The Tribune at the council meeting. “That project was finished up this year.  Then the north taxiway has to be brought up to speed, as well.”  In its entirety, the project does not mean an expansion of the airport’s runways and taxiways, but an equalization of the quality and capabilities of all existing paved surfaces for aircraft.  The resolutions passed by the council awarded a bid for phase one to Wiregrass Construction Company in the amount of $512,685.41, and approved Mayor Woody Jacobs to enter into a grant agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration for the project.  Under the grant terms, the City and County will only have to pay five percent of that cost.  The council also approved a proposal to apply for additional funding for next year’s phase two.  Harrison shared at Wednesday’s event, “We are an economic development driver for the city of Cullman and for all of Cullman County.  We don’t do economic development, but we host the companies that are coming in, that are doing economic development here.  I would say, pretty much all the large industry, at some point in time, always has someone coming into the airport several times per year, whether it be executives, whether it be air cargo that they need, whether it be people coming in to do business with them.  So, constantly, we have someone coming in that deals with all the local major suppliers.”  Harrison also talked about some of the partnerships the airport is involved with that he feels have been mutually beneficial for them and the community.  “One of the other industries we have here is Air Evac; we have (the) Air Evac base here which is if anyone is an Air Evac member this is the base helicopter that will come get you in the event of an accident or an emergency. We also have their southeast regional MRO facility so that is the maintenance and repair facility for all the aircraft in the region so that has been an excellent partnership for us as well. We hope to capitalize on that and even help them expand.”  Thanks to several business services the airport provides as well as attractions like Skydive Alabama, Harrison says he can see the interest in the airport growing both economically and recreationally.  “We’ve definitely seen an increase in traffic and involvement from last year to this year and every year we seem to be doing a little bit better. That’s the goal is to keep driving it and moving it forward.”  The facility even has its own restaurant, The

Road Near Dothan Airport Will Bear Director’s Name

By: Jim Cook

Jul 11, 2017

The City of Dothan honored longtime Dothan Regional Airport director Art Morris by renaming a street at the airport after him.  Civic leaders surprised Morris with the announcement at a meeting Tuesday at the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce. The city will rename Flight Safety Drive to Art Morris Drive.  Dothan Mayor Mike Schmitz said Morris and the airport have been important to the economic development of the city.  “Art has had his nose to the grindstone through all the ups and downs,” he said.  Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver said Morris helped guide the airport through some tough economic conditions during the last recession.  “I don’t think we could have had a better person in more difficult times,” he said.  Morris started work at the airport as its deputy director more than 30 years ago. Morris, a Dothan native, was a recent graduate of Auburn University and had been searching for jobs.  “I had resumes out all over the place, but I didn’t have one in Dothan because I didn’t think there’d be any jobs available,” he said.  Morris later learned that an assistant director’s job was open and he applied and got the job. A year-and-a-half later he became the director when his predecessor retired.  Morris said he’s most proud of his work in obtaining better salaries and benefits for airport employees and in diversifying the airport’s tenant base so the facility isn’t dependent on tax dollars. Morris said these achievements wouldn’t have been possible without his co-workers and the Airport Authority.  “We have a great team,” he said. “It’s not Art Morris.”  Morris said he’s had a lifelong fascination with aviation. Morris said some of his earliest memories involve watching airplanes with his parents at the old Dothan Municipal Airport (now Westgate Park).

June 15, 2017

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Stephen Schmidt

Annual Buzz Sawyer Memorial Scholarship awarded to Alabama Aviation College Student

Ms. Hannah Rogers, an Alabama Aviation College student in Ozark, Alabama, is the recipient of the first annual Buzz Sawyer Memorial Scholarship. Jed Blackwell, President of the Aviation Council of Alabama Inc., and Jerry Cofield, Director of Albertville Regional Airport, presented the scholarship to Hannah on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, on behalf of the Aviation Council of Alabama.  The Aviation Council of Alabama Inc. is Alabama’s only statewide airport and aviation association which represents International, Air Carrier, General Aviation Airports, and Aviation Businesses, Economic Developers, Pilots, Aircraft Owners and Aviation Associations. The Aviation Council of Alabama is dedicated to continued improvement, development and advancements of airports and aviation throughout the state.  According to Mr. Blackwell, the memorial scholarship was formed to honor Mr. Buzz Sawyer, a longtime aviation enthusiast who helped run aviation throughout Alabama for well over 50 years and dedicated his life to aviation. The scholarship is awarded to high school and college-aged students in the State of Alabama who has plans to develop careers in aviation. The scholarship, valued at $1,500, is expected to be awarded annually to one high school senior or currently enrolled college student who has demonstrated an aptitude for – and has an interest in – pursuing aviation, or who is currently pursuing an aviation-related degree at an accredited college or university. Applicants are asked to submit a brief 250-word essay describing their goals, achievements thus far and need for financial assistance for the selection committee’s review.  “Ms. Rogers was a very worthy candidate based off the recommendations and the letters we received from the staff and friends (at Alabama Aviation College). Her essay provided her overall goals to help aviation in the state of Alabama following her graduation from Alabama Aviation College. We look forward to her graduating and fulfilling her goals in aviation,” Mr. Blackwell said.  Mr. Cofield offered additional support for the scholarship: “The Alabama Aviation Council wants to do everything we can to encourage the young people to step up and take the place of those people who are at retirement age in the aviation industry. Without young people like Ms. Rogers, the aviation industry is going to suffer in about five to ten years because there won’t be anyone to replace the retirees,” he said.  Hannah is a self-described “Daddy’s Girl” from Daleville, Alabama, and a graduate of Daleville High School, class of 2011. Hannah’s fond memories of tinkering around her father’s shop at a young age encouraged her to continue her mechanical work at a motorcycle shop throughout high school. Through the inspiration of her former supervisor and the pride of hearing an engine come back to life, she eventually sought out furthering her education as an Airframe and Powerplant mechanic.  Shortly following high school graduation, Hannah began working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) to support her son, Trenton, and herself, though she realized how much she truly missed mechanical work. Hannah then transferred to the Aviation Maintenance Technology program at the Alabama Aviation College in January 2017. Hannah’s primary objective was to prove to her son that, through hard work, any goal is achievable.  When asked about future employment, Ms. Rogers stated, “I would love to be employed with Gulfstream in Savannah, Georgia due to their class of work and the state of environment.”  Hannah’s advice for future students would be to “have a good support system and connect with fellow students and staff.”  “The support of everyone at Alabama Aviation College has greatly benefited my determination and education,” she said.  Hannah would like to credit Ms. Valeria Pryor for assistance in applying to the Alabama Aviation College and further assisting in the application process for the Aviation Council of Alabama scholarship.  Alabama Aviation College is a unit of Enterprise State Community College with campuses in Albertville, Andalusia, Mobile and Ozark. Each campus currently fulfills the Alabama Community College System’s mission for education and training which leads to high-wage, high-demand jobs in integral careers worldwide. Students can obtain Associate’s degrees and certificates through multiple programs at the college.




Cleared For Takeoff!

Good afternoon!  On February 3rd, we announced that a new “Flight Plan” had been filed.  On that day the Board of Trustees approved the “move” of the degree programs to the University College, approved the formation of the Department of Aviation, and approved the revised curriculums for Aviation Management and Professional Flight.  At that time we stated that final approval will be needed from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE).  Today, ACHE has approved the two degrees and the formation of the Department of Aviation.  The new degrees will begin this fall.  This is truly an exciting day for aviation at Auburn.  Many people have worked hard to make this a reality, including the Provost and his office, our faculty, our staff, our students, and our supportive alumni.  We are very grateful for everyone’s support, and we are very excited about the future.  Thank you all again for what you do for our program and for students.

War Eagle!