Wallace State Adds More Planes To Aviation Program

Wallace State Community College’s Aviation/Flight Technology program has added three new Cessna 172 model aircraft and a multi-engine trainer to its fleet.

“These new airplanes are much needed and will help us incorporate glass cockpit and autopilot training. We’ve looked forward to adding autopilot concepts and this allows us to,” said Bert Mackentepe, Wallace State program chair and instructor.

Mackentepe, who has been with the college for 40 years, says he expects to add another two aircraft to the fleet in the spring 2021 semester, strengthening the program’s fixed wing and helicopter training. Wallace State has been named among the top community colleges in the South for aviation and aerospace training by Southern Business and Development Magazine.

“We are grateful to our legislative delegation for helping us increase funding for this essential program,” said Wallace State President Vicki Karolewics. “Aviation is becoming ever more important to the Alabama economy, and the increased demand for our program has resulted in a waiting list in recent years. We look forward to training more pilots and associated careers as a result of our expansion.”

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In addition to the new aircraft, the program also welcomed two new instructors this semester, Gary Lowe and Terrell Stokes, both of whom are Wallace State graduates.

Lowe, who completed his training at Wallace State in 1990, has both commercial and corporate aviation experience and recently retired from a long career with Delta Airlines.

Stokes, a 2015 graduate, is transitioning from a part-time flight instructor role with the college, which he has maintained since 2018.

The aviation/flight technology program offers an associate degree and other special training programs for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. The program consists of flight and ground instruction, which qualifies students for various careers in the aviation industry. Once trained, pilots are required to attend recurrent training and simulator checks once or twice a year throughout their career.

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