WACO, Texas – Texas State Technical College closed for two months due to the pandemic. They have since been open and maintaining a healthy environment with committed instructors.
Since opening back in May, TSTC has incorporated new CDC guidelines to keep faculty, staff and students safe. In addition, they have created a safe environment to continue the Aircraft Pilot Training Technology Program .
Elaine Polster is a student who enjoys the program, and hopes to become a Certified Flight Instructor one day. Polster says even in the midst of the pandemic, she is still getting a great experience in the program.
“Everyone wears a mask. One of the things we do is we move the desk so that there is space between us and our instructor. We still get that one-on-one experience, but through the safety of distancing,” Polster says.
The two-year program now offers hybrid classes – giving students the option to take classes online or in-person.
Certified Flight Instructor Natalie Verhoog completed the program two years ago and finds joy in helping other students achieve their goals.
“I will train three to four students. Depending on the weather, we always prefer to fly,” Verhoog says. So four flights a day, we have two and a half hour flight blocks. If the weather is poor, we will do ground instruction – basically classroom instruction – and also simulator instruction.”
With a limited number of students at a time, Verhoog says they still social distance whenever they are not in the aircraft.
“We have all been staying healthy, which is great,” Verhoog said.
Polster emphasized the support she receives from her instructors.
“They train us one-on-one throughout the program, and it’s really cool to get to know them. They teach us the tips and tricks of aviation and help us become better pilots,” Polster said.
Verhoog said although the pandemic changed normal procedures, it has also brought a silver lining.
“We have very senior instructors, which is not always common. The fact the airlines are not hiring right now, we have a very senior experienced instructor deck,” Verhoog said. “It is actually one of the best times, I think, to be a student in aircraft pilot training.”