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UI Flight Program Could Land at Parkland College

The University of Illinois' Board of Trustees is poised to vote Thursday on ending its long-running flight training program, but there is a chance the Institute of Aviation may have a new home.

The Urbana campus has provided flight training since the mid-1940's. Parkland College President Tom Ramage said he has been in talks with U of I officials about incorporating the aviation program into his school's curriculum. He said he is interested in keeping the institute alive, even if it is on a smaller scale.

"A private pilot licensure as well as commercial pilot licensure can happen without a degree or it can happen with a degree," he said. "We could go as far as the associate's degree, and partner as we do with many other programs with another university to do that degree competition."

Ramage said the prospect of Parkland adopting the flight program is largely dependent on what happens in the days ahead. He noted that discussions with the U of I about the institute have just started.

"I would imagine if the (University of Illinois) decides not to come and have a discussion with Parkland that they have good reason for it," Ramage said. "I don't know that I would beat down the door trying to figure out why."

On his end, Ramage said he would have to review the cost of maintaining the flight program, and the prospect of post-graduate jobs for aviation students.

A panel of U of I administrators and faculty made the recommendation in February to get rid of the Institute of Aviation as part of a series of cost-cutting measures. If that recommendation goes through with the vote by the Board of Trustees, then the flight program would end by 2014.

Staff and alumni from the Institute of Aviation plan to rally Thursday morning before the Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago.