Aviation

Aviation

Aviation is one of PUC’s most exciting programs. With an on-campus airport and unique, accredited four-year degree, the program prepares Christ-centered pilots for lives of service throughout the aviation industry and in the mission field.

Fast Facts

1

The Angwin Airport is located on PUC’s campus, within walking distance of residence halls and other academic buildings.

2

PUC is one of only two liberal arts colleges in California to offer a degree in aviation.

3

For those interested in bush flying, the aviation program has access to unimproved airstrips within our local practice areas.

4

The Private Pilot and Instrument courses are approved by the FAA as a 141 Pilot School.

5

Students have access to diverse airspace within the Sacramento valley and San Francisco Bay Area.

6

Students can earn multiple certifications: pilot single-engine, private pilot multi-engine, instrument rating, commercial pilot single-engine, commercial pilot multi-engine, certified flight instructor (CFI), multi-engine instructor, and instrument instructor ratings.

Careers

  • Aerial photography
  • Sky diving piloting
  • Crop dusting
  • Sight-seeing touring
  • Cargo flight
  • Charter and airline flight
  • Pilot training
  • Border patrol
  • Traffic controller
  • Airport manager
  • Captain or first officer for airlines
  • Air Ambulance
  • Fire-fighting
  • Overseas mission flying

A Life of Teaching and Travel

Professor Kaye Varney Takes to the Skies

Kaye Varney

Kaye Varney, a PUC student from 1998 to 2002 and flight enthusiast since childhood, has pursued her dream job as a flight instructor since 2003.  She joined the PUC faculty in 2009 and has called the PUC airport “home” ever since.  Her interest in aviation began at an early age, but she did not consider it as a career until after high school.  Her favorite flights are usually cross-country or night flights, but one of her favorite aspects of her current job is the opportunity to fly with students.  “It’s rewarding to see their enthusiasm for flying and to help them reach their goal of becoming a pilot,” she said.

She boards the plane as a passenger when she travels to to faraway places—the most exotic of which, she says, were the fascinating Peruvian landmarks Macchu Picchu and Cuzco Valley.

One would think that the life of an aviator would be adventure enough, but when Varney is out from behind the controls of the plane, she loves to continue the excitement through a life of travel. She boards the plane as a passenger when she travels to to faraway places—the most exotic of which, she says, were the fascinating Peruvian landmarks Macchu Picchu and Cuzco Valley. 

One of her most memorable adventures comes from her time growing up in Southern Oregon.  “My family would always go camping for a couple of weeks each summer,” she said.  “One summer we went rock hunting in Eastern Oregon.  We found petrified wood, red and black obsidian, thunder eggs, and sun stones.”  Although the rare rocks were extraordinary, Varney mostly remembers the trip because of the multiple flat tires her family had to deal with.  “By the end of the trip we had replaced all four tires on the car and one tire on the trailer,” she reminisced.

It sounds like a packed schedule—not only does she teach PUC’s nascent aviators, Varney also appreciates a good book (a form of mind-travel), when she’s not busy camping, hiking, mountain biking, winging her way to a distant country, or, of course, flying high on her own.

Bryan Soderblom’s Service in Guyana’s Skies

Bryan Soderblom

Bryan Soderblom, an aviation and religion major, experienced a life-changing journey during his year as a student missionary in Guyana, a small nation on the northern coast of South America.  Although as a freshman he initially planned to go to Brazil as a pilot, personally he felt the call for a homeschool teacher in Guyana was stronger.  “The more and more I thought about it during long hikes in the back 40, it felt like if I went to Brazil I’d be serving my own purposes,” said Bryan.  He liked the opportunity in Guyana because it seemed more of a service mission than a way to advance his own career as a pilot.

Bryan was set up teaching two American children as soon as he arrived in Guyana.  Shortly he began giving guitar lessons to local kids, and then was bumped up to teaching high school math to about a hundred students at the secondary school.  He said the job was rewarding as well as demanding; he was able to help the high school kids push through the basics of math up to a solid high school level.  “By the end, I’m glad to say we got to factorization of polynomials,” he said.

For the first few months, Bryan’s teaching was his sole job, but eventually he was invited to come along on some of the medevac flights for Adventist World Aviation’s (AWA) Wings for Humanity.  Although AWA has missions and service projects all over the globe, Wings for Humanity is specifically in Guyana.  These medevacs flew sick and injured people from their small villages to the main hospital, and were also chartered by the government to transport local officials.  Also, one of the medevacs’ most important functions was to perform body flights so the burials could take place in the home villages.  Bryan’s experience in the medevacs was at first limited to the copilot’s seat—he was able to make adjustments and use the controls from there, but soon graduated to making solo flights.

“I didn’t go to Guyana to fly—I turned down flying somewhere else to go and do something hopefully not for myself, and yet God still brought it around and let me fly.”

Bryan said he felt very blessed by the flying experience he had in Guyana.  “I didn’t go to Guyana to fly—I turned down flying somewhere else to go and do something hopefully not for myself,” he said, “and yet God still brought it around and let me fly.”  As he made more flights with the medevacs, he gained experience as a pilot, learning how to cope with situations that required quick thinking and snap decisions.  On one of these occasions, Bryan had to figure out what to do with a full plane, two critically injured passengers and a crucial weight restriction.  To his relief, after crunching the numbers Bryan was able to transport every passenger to the correct destination without maxing the weight limit.

Even though he was constantly challenged by the isolation, the lack of familiar culture, and a close up view of death, Bryan described his time in Guyana as very fulfilling.  “Throughout the whole time I was there I couldn’t feel God leading in any way.  I was out there—just me,” said Bryan, “just looking back and seeing how God really did lead through it all, and took things and put them beyond my wildest imagination—I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

Aviation Students “Fly” the Frasca 180

Frasca 180

One member of the aviation program's fleet has yet to leave the ground. It lacks an engine and wings, but its usefulness is hailed by students and flight instructors alike. Meet the Frasca 180, Pacific Union College's "flight training device."

The advancement of technology has had an untold impact on modern instruction. Perhaps nowhere is this more clear than in the realm of aviation and the development of flight simulators. The PUC aviation program understands that any technology promoting more efficient learning in non-life threatening conditions is worth its weight in gold. Housed safely in Fisher Hall, the Frasca 180 provides both, and affords peace of mind to students and - especially - to parents.

The flight simulator allows student pilots to test their abilities against every aerial hazard imaginable—from awful weather to engine failure—all within the safety of Fisher Hall. If it happens in an airplane, it can happen in the flight simulator. The sense of realism is so highly regarded by the aerospace industry that pilots can actually complete or maintain their certification for certain pilot classes by using it, saving time as well as fuel expenditures. "While using the simulator, people have been known to fall over as they attempt to reconcile what they perceive as actual movement," observes aviation major Blake Segoria. "I am sometimes surprised at the end of a lesson that I haven't gone anywhere and that my 'airplane' is lacking wings, fuselage and tail!"

A "freeze button" that momentarily halts the simulation allows the instructor to coach students through aerial emergencies. This kind of preparation greatly reduces a student's anxiety throughout the training process and makes a monumental difference when actually airborne.