Tuesday was a day to both look back and ahead for the six Vaughn College students who recently completed the first phase of flight training at Redbird Skyport in San Marcos, Texas.
Recognized at an awards ceremony on Tuesday afternoon, the students reflected on time spent at the facility in January and expressed an eagerness to return later this spring for instrument certification.
"It's such an exciting day that I am ready to cry," Margarita Cholakova said. "I know we all appreciate the help from everyone at Vaughn. Without that help, it would have been impossible."
"It was really hard work, but it brings me closer to my future ambition," added Gagandeep Munder. "I can't wait to go back. It's been like living a dream."
The six students – Cholakova, Munder, Erika Barcenes, Ryan Barren, Franklin Pillcorema and Daniel Turner – represent the first class from Vaughn to complete the innovative flight training program at Redbird Skyport. Redbird, a leading flight simulator manufacturer, opened Skyport last year with the idea of making flight training more affordable and accessible to would-be pilots. Vaughn signed an agreement with Redbird in September 2011.
Vaughn's students spent several weeks at the facility, just south of Austin, Texas, training in simulators, in the classroom and in the air.
"We know how hard each of you worked; from 8 a.m. to midnight," Senior Vice President Dr. Sharon DeVivo said. "Each milestone you pass gets you closer to your dream of becoming a professional pilot."
On Tuesday, the students received pins and certificates recognizing their accomplishments. Randy Clark, general manager of Redbird Skyport, traveled from Texas to pay tribute to the first group to complete the program.
"We built Skyport to show the industry a new way to train," Clark said. "You all were the first ones, so we're excited for you. We congratulate you and tip our hat to Vaughn for being out front on this."
VAUGHN COLLEGE HONORS FIRST CLASS OF REDBIRD SKYPORT STUDENTS: Above, Gagandeep Munder receives his honorary pin from College Senior Vice President Dr. Sharon DeVivo as Skyport General Manager Randy Clark looks on. Below, Clark pays tribute to the first class of Vaughn students to complete private pilot training.