The Utah Rotor Pathway Program (URPP) held its second annual fly-in on Oct. 5, 2023, at the Davis Catalyst Center in Kaysville, Utah. This event, which featured multiple helicopters and numerous industry displays, introduced students to the world of vertical flight and the many exciting job opportunities it offers.

Students gather around a pilot of a Bell 407GXi to learn about air ambulance flights as part of a Utah Rotor Pathways Program second annual fly-in at the Davis Catalyst Center in Kaysville, Utah. The helicopter is owned by Classic Air Medical, part of Intermountain Healthcare. The company operates in several western states and is headquartered in North Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Mark Bennett.

The event featured pilots and mechanics sharing their experience in and passion for the helicopter industry. Helicopters used in a wide range of operations, including air ambulance missions, utility work, firefighting, training, and charters, were flown in by several companies located throughout Utah. Uncrewed aircraft systems (UASs) were also on display for students to learn more about.

“It was wonderful to see the tremendous number of students present and learning about the industry,” says Chris Cox, Southern Utah University director of flight operations and chair of the URPP. “This event allows students to interact with those already in the industry, see helicopters up close, and learn how they can pursue great careers in this field.”

“The vertical aviation industry is strong in Utah, and the industry has a tremendous opportunity for growth,” says URPP Vice Chair Nick Johnson, assistant chief pilot at Intermountain Life Flight. “The missions we fly in our aircraft save lives. Serving the public is a very rewarding career. I am excited to see so many students at this event, and I welcome the opportunity to share with them how they can enter this exciting world.”

“I want to thank all the companies that so generously provided their time and resources to make this event happen,” adds Cade Clark, chief government affairs officer at Helicopter Association International (HAI) and program secretary. “Industry support for the pathway program is essential. So, too, is the support from Utah leaders, and I want to thank the Utah State Legislature for its continued backing of the program. The people of Utah should be proud their state is investing today to build the workforce of tomorrow.”

Industry partners participating in the event included Classic Air Medical, Intermountain Life Flight, Mountain West Helicopters, PHI Air Medical, PHI Americas, Robotic Skies, Southern Utah University, Universal Helicopters, Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau, Utah State University, and Zipline.

The Utah Rotor Pathway Program serves as a first-in-the-nation model for education and training programs preparing high school students for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers in rotary-wing aviation. We provide students with an avenue to earn college credits and learn skills specific to rotary-wing aviation while participating in technical classes and hands-on learning experiences at the secondary-school level.

The program connects rotorcraft industry professionals with high schools, flight schools, and universities to offer benefits such as mentoring, internships, and job interviews upon students’ completion of their rotary-wing aviation programs. The URPP connects the next generation of helicopter pilots and aviation maintenance technicians with the exciting world of vertical flight.

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