It’s Senior Year. College decisions are coming and applications are piling up.

As a student interested in pursuing professional flight, I’ve been looking into major aviation universities all over the country. From Florida to North Dakota, there are some great colleges out there for aspiring pilots! The University of North Dakota has the largest collegiate flight school in the United States, with over 120,000 hours of flight training flown every year. In late September, we made the trip from Richmond to Grand Forks for a visit to UND. Aleks Udris, my friend and partner at Boldmethod kindly helped set up out visit. Below are some photos of the flight department at the Grand Forks International Airport (KGFK):

UND is located in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It’s on the Easternmost edge of the state, bordering Minnesota, about an hour away from Canada. Grand Forks is a small city of about 55,000 people. It’s a state with extremely cold winters, and warm summers. With huge swings in temperature and weather, student pilots here truly get to experience  4 seasons of flying.

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The University itself has 15,000 students (12,000 undergraduates), a large sports program (Hockey is HUGE here), and some pretty awesome facilities. One thing that attracted me to the school more so than other aviation programs I’ve visited is that since you’re at a large, normal university, you’ll have the chance to meet people who aren’t involved in aviation at all. I see that as a real benefit, having the chance to meet friends that aren’t aviation-based. On top of that, since you’re paying for the credit hours, you can sample subjects from all sorts of different fields. As a Commercial Aviation Major, you can minor in something like Business, ATC, or Unmanned Aerial Systems. Alternatively, you could work towards a double major! Here are some photos from around the University:

We toured the John D. Odegard Aerospace Campus at UND, visiting the aviation classrooms, ATC Center, UAS Center, and simulation rooms. I even flew in a Piper Seminole simulator for about an hour with Aleks, experiencing multi-engine flight and some IFR conditions.

I had the chance to go up with a UND flight instructor for a sample flight around the area (some photos are shown below). To read the full post, Click Here:

On my visit, I went with my mom and a few friends to a UND Hockey game at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. We don’t have much Hockey in Richmond, so it was cool to watch.

UND isn’t for everyone. It’s located in a largely rural state that has brutal winters (we’re talking -50 degrees!). Grand Forks is a nice town, but there isn’t a whole lot to do within the town itself, at least compared to a larger city. On the bright side, UND has an excellent aerospace program. If you want to fly, there’ll be no shortage of it! North Dakota has great hunting and fishing for those interested. I’ve heard that lots of people take up ice-fishing in the winters! If you want to attend a large university with great facilities, a top aerospace program, and a large sports program, this might be the place for you. Plus, it’s easy to get in-state residency in North Dakota, allowing you to pay a much reduced in-state tuition.

There are plenty of college options for aspiring pilots… UND is a great one!

Thanks for reading,

About The Author

If you want to become a pilot, I want to make your journey just a little easier. I'm a First Officer for Envoy Air, one of the largest regional airlines in the world, and have partnered with industry leaders like the U.S. Air Force to teach about various aviation careers. For a full bio, click the "About" tab above. Use the "Contact" tab to shoot me a message.

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