Delaware’s entire Congressional Delegation came to Delaware State University to talk about pending federal legislation that will provide ROTC cadets enrolled in the University’s Aviation Program with some much needed financial support.
U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons and U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester joined University President Tony Allen for a media event to talk about The Flight Act – legislation that would cover the expensive lab costs for Aviation majors who are also a part of ROTC. The legislation – of which Sen. Coons is a co-sponsor – has passed the U.S. Senate and now awaits U.S. House passage.
Dr. Allen praised the Congressional Delegation for their faithful support of the University, especially as evidenced by their work on the Flight Act.
“We are already committed to doubling the size of our Aviation Program in the next five years,” Dr. Allen said. “We knew that we could do that with an increased aircraft fleet, and now we are certain we can exceed that with the Flight Act.”
Sen. Coons pointed out that while 20% of U.S. Air Force are people of color, only 2% of military pilots are black or brown Americans; and that only 3% of that group are civilian pilots. He was the Flight Act will help address the shortage of pilots of color.
“In a state with such remarkable potential, in a nation with such incredible human resources at the ready, this is the exactly the place where that next generation of pilots of color will be trained and where we will keep breaking through into blue skies of great opportunity,” Sen. Coons said. “The Flight Act is a small, clear, but important reminder of what the framers (of the U.S. Constitution) expected us to do in Washington, D.C. and what is possible when we do it together.”
Sen. Coons noted that ROTC students at Del State should not have to go to University of Delaware, but should be able to take advantage of the flight training at Delaware State University. He added that such ROTC cadets need financial help to cover the cost. “The Flight Act takes care of both of those two things,” he said.
The legislation’s provision for financial help to cover the lab cost is no small thing. The Aviation Program’s lab costs range from almost $10,000 to more than $19,000 per year.
Rep. Rochester said the Flight Act encapsulates equity, opportunity and service. “Today is the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington,” she said. “Those are the same principles and ideas that people marched for then and people are marching for today.”
Sen. Carper ended the event with his often-repeated statement during his visits to Del State: “Hornets rising.”