Flying Okra: New planes flying to Mississippi university to enhance commercial aviation program

Published 10:21 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Delta State University has taken delivery of two out of five new Cirrus TRAC 20 aircraft for the Commercial Aviation Department, signaling a major step forward in the program’s advancement. The new planes are state-of-the-art, technologically advanced aircraft that will allow students to receive top-notch training and prepare them for successful careers in the aviation industry.

Aviation Department Chair Joe Saia said, “The university’s flight training department is committed to becoming one of the most advanced training facilities in the United States, and these new aircraft are a significant piece of that puzzle. I am incredibly excited about these new aircraft and what they represent for our program, our students deserve the best possible training, and these new aircraft will allow us to provide that.”

The DSU Aviation program is already one of the most complete and competitive in the country, and Saia expects that to continue. He said, “As we continue to invest in our program and push towards becoming one of the best training facilities in the United States, the future looks bright for our students and for the aviation industry as a whole. With this investment in our program, Delta State is positioning itself to be one of the best aviation training programs in the country.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Two more aircraft will be inspected for delivery Friday June 23 and the last one June 30. The aircraft are manufactured by Cirrus in Duluth, Minn. and flown to Knoxville, Tenn. for finishing work and inspection where DSU signed for the aircraft and took ownership.

The aircraft were paid for with an appropriation from the Mississippi legislature.

Saia, along with Brad McNealy, Director of Flight Operations, Garrett Gee, Manager of Flight Operations, Marshall Tomlinson Manager of Flight Standards, and DSU Lead Aircraft Mechanic and Inspector Jimmy Christianson traveled to Knoxville to inspect and take delivery. The aircraft will be flown back to Cleveland after they finish training this Friday. Cleveland Airport staff members Garrett Gee and Marshall Tomlinson made the trip as well and will stay for a week of training with Cirrus professional test pilots and instructors.