WICHITA, Kan. — Middle Tennessee State University aerospace students claimed their prize — use of a new, custom-branded Cessna Skyhawk 172 — as part of Textron Aviation Inc.’s 2018 Top Hawk program.
Six student flight instructors and aerospace administrators accepted delivery of the plane from Textron Aviation officials April 12 during a ceremony in the Flight Operations building at Textron Aviation headquarters at Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita, Kansas.
Elizabeth Keller and Harry Arcamuzi, two of the flight instructors, submitted MTSU’s application, which was one of five chosen by Textron Aviation.
MTSU learned last November of its selection. Under the Top Hawk program, MTSU will use the plane until late September 2018 to support flight training, recruiting efforts and promotional activities throughout the spring and summer.
Lewis University, the University of Dubuque, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott and California Aeronautical University joined MTSU in being chosen as the other 2018 Top Hawk participants.
Keller, Arcamuzi and Nick Lenczycki, MTSU flight operations program manager, flew the plane back to Murfreesboro late Thursday.
“The aerospace department is thrilled to be selected by Textron Aviation to be a Top Hawk school,” said department chair Wendy Beckman. She and her students were Christmas morning-level elated upon entering the hangar and viewing the plane they earned.
“Using this state-of-the-art aircraft for events such as air shows, the Air Race Classic and Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture, will assist MTSU in its continuing efforts to introduce young people to aviation,” she added. “Our Top Hawk team students, who worked hard to create and submit the winning proposal, will have a busy summer flying the aircraft to these venues.”
”At Textron Aviation, we make it a priority to support general aviation through the enhancement of student pilot training — and working with organizations and flight schools like Middle Tennessee State University is essential to achieving that success,” said Allison Varriano, manager of Training and Fleet Sales at Textron Aviation.
Lenczycki said Keller and Arcamuzi are “extremely excited and incredibly honored” to be retrieving the Top Hawk airplane.
Keller developed a required marketing plan. The duo then created a script for an accompanying video, which Arcamuzi filmed and edited. The final video, marketing plan and standard operating procedures were submitted to Textron Aviation for review.
Keller said she is “so grateful” to be able to fly the plane in the Air Race Classic this summer. Both students will take the Top Hawk aircraft to the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
“This Top Hawk plane will allow us to spread the word about collegiate aviation,” she said. “Most middle and high school students just don’t even know it is an option.”
Arcamuzi is also excited to be able to take the plane to Oshkosh.
“I have been going to Oshkosh since I was a child,” he said. “Now I will be able to go with MTSU. I am so excited to spread the word about our university and general aviation.”
Lenczycki said MTSU attended the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh in 2017, where students and Textron Aviation officials began discussions about the Top Hawk program.
Among the numerous events they plan to attend, MTSU will take a DA 40, the Top Hawk aircraft, drones and about six students to the Shelbyville, Tennessee, Aviation Day, April 28, Lenczycki said. They also will go to Good Neighbor Day at Peachtree-DeKalb Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, May 19, and Owensboro, Kentucky, in September.
Following the informal signing of documents and key exchange between Lenczycki and Michael Smith, Textron Aviation delivery coordinator, company officials provided a guided tour of its large Wichita West Campus airplane production facility for Cessna jets.
Textron Aviation works with universities, training organizations and flight schools throughout the world, and the Top Hawk program plays a vital role in the initiative to support the advancement of general aviation and modernization of aircraft training fleets.
Garmin and Bose are sponsoring the Top Hawk program again this year by providing several of their products. Garmin will supply a G1000 NXi database subscription and a Garmin Pilot subscription, while Bose will provide two A20 Aviation Headsets for each aircraft.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)