BAMBERG COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) -- New days on the horizon for Bamberg County as county officials and the public got an update on a future flight school in South Carolina.
"I care about this community," pilot Will Bradley told NewsChannel 6's Shawn Cabbagestalk. "My grandfather was chairman of the hospital board here. He was chairman of the school board. I spent a lot of my youth in Bamberg County," he added.
Hearing about the financial struggles in the County, he caused him to take action. "I've been flying in and out of Bamberg airport in private planes for many years and one day I said why not here," he said.
Denmark Technical College in the early stages of preparing for a pilot training program in nearby Denmark.
"Right here where we're located, we are only a mile and a half from the Bamberg County airport so what we are looking at is possibly having the students train there. They will fly at the airport during the morning time and during the evenings they will come back to campus and take their classes," Interim President Dr. Christopher Hall said.
When finished, students will have the training needed to become commercial pilots. It will "add an economic boost to this region. It will positivity help Denmark Tech, the town of Denmark, the county, and the Denmark Tech service area," Councilman Evert Comer added.
"Everybody said yes in Bamberg County. I'm not personally getting anything out of it except for the satisfaction that I'm helping the county I grew up in," Bradley stated.
Why Bamberg county? Because of its rural nature.
"Rural is not good for all things, but it's good for flying. We need to get the students in the aircraft in the skies so they can maximize their flight time and this is a rural area. There's not much air traffic at all. It's a perfect laboratory, if you will, for flight training," Bradley added.
It will take about two years for the program to get up and running. Bradley said improvements are needed at the Bamberg airstrip such as:
- Powerlines need to be moved that are currently at the end of the runway
- An additional taxiway is needed to increase safety
- A hangar big enough to house five to six aircraft
- Office space
- Classrooms built at the airport
"But everything else is in place. the dorms are here the other classrooms for English and Math and all the things that you need for a four-year degree are there at Denmark Tech," Bradley reiterated.
The price tag is about $5.2 million dollars to get the program started. "All facilities, airplanes, simulators and initial salaries for the first year for the three instructors that it will take to run it," according to Bradley is included in the cost.
The program is designed to grow to 80 students.
"It would be reaching a new group of students people who may not have thought about Denmark Technical College before will have to look at us differently and thinking about becoming a pilot," Dr. Hall added.
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