Wallace State’s Aviation/Flight Technology welcomes new training aircraft  

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Wallace State's Aviation/Flight Technology program has added three new CESSNA 172 aircraft to help with training.

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Wallace State’s Aviation/Flight Technology program has recently added three new Cessna 172 model aircraft and a multi-engine trainer to its fleet.  

“These new airplanes are much needed and will help us incorporate glass cockpit and autopilot training. We’ve looked forward to adding autopilot concepts and this allows us to. We’re also reintroducing the multi-engine option for commercial and private training,” said Wallace State program chair and instructor Bert Mackentepe. “We appreciate the support from Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics and her willingness to help us add this aircraft.”  

Mackentepe, who has been a part of the program and college for 40 years, also expects two aircraft to be added during the Spring 2021 semester, strengthening the program’s fixed wing and helicopter training.  

 “We are grateful to our legislative delegation for helping us increase funding for this essential program,” said Wallace State President Vicki Karolewics. “Aviation is becoming ever more important to the Alabama economy, and the increased demand for our program has resulted in a waiting list in recent years. We look forward to training more pilots and associated careers as a result of our expansion.”

 Wallace State was named among the top community colleges in the South for aviation and aerospace training by Southern Business and Development Magazine in 2018. 

“There has never been a better time to pursue an aviation career, whether as a pilot, mechanic or air traffic controller. Interest in our program continues to increase. Aviation is a cyclical industry, and there’s always a need for those with the appropriate certifications and ratings, especially with many pilots on the verge of retirement across the country,” Mackentepe said.  

Wallace State’s Aviation/Flight Technology has welcomed two new instructors this semester, Gary Lowe and Terrell Stokes. Both are Wallace State graduates.  

Lowe, who completed his training at Wallace State in 1990, has both commercial and corporate aviation experience, recently retired from a long career with Delta Airlines. Before working for Delta, Lowe served as chief pilot for an engineering firm and in Guam for a commuter airline.  

Stokes is a 2015 graduate of the program, transitioning from a part-time flight instructor role he’s maintained since 2018.  

Another goal for Mackentepe and the program is to launch aviation STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) awareness into local high schools and pursue dual enrollment opportunities.   

Wallace State’s Aviation/Flight Technology program offers associate degrees and special training in helicopter/airplane pilot training. Pilots trained at Wallace State learn how to fly airplanes and/or helicopters and are able to perform a wide variety of tasks, whether as a professional or recreational pilot. 

The Aviation/Flight Technology program consists of flight and ground instruction, which will qualify students for various careers in the aviation industry. Once trained at Wallace State, pilots are required to attend recurrent training and simulator checks once or twice a year throughout their career. 

Wallace State is a Military Friendly College and the Aviation/Flight Technology program accepts special funding and benefits for veterans. 

Recent graduates and students of Wallace State’s Aviation/Flight Technology program are now working as pilots for Jet-Pep, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, med-flights for UAB and Children’s Hospital and American Airlines, among for other businesses and companies. 

The program is open for tours and welcomes visitors to its location at Cullman Airport. Please call 256-737-3040 or email megan.smith@wallacestate.edu.  

For more information about the program, visit www.wallacestate.edu/programs/technical-division/aviationflight-technology

For more information about Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu

Bert Mackentepe
Instructor Terrell Stokes
Instructor Gary Lowe