Jacksonville Aviation program turns 40

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville University Aviation program is marking 40 years, and one student is taking her passion to new heights.

JU senior Savannah Panting is from Anchorage, Alaska, and her love for flying started at an early age with her dad.


“When I was 12 years old, I was finally tall enough to fly in the pit special with him, so we were pulling so many g’s that your face feels like you are about to peel off,” said Panting.

She’s in the minority among airline pilots.

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According to Jacksonville University, the percentage of women airline pilots globally is only 4% to 6% but growing. About 20% of JU’s Aviation Program students are female.

The aviation program at the school has been soaring for 40 years now, housed inside the Davis College of Business and Technology.

“Right now, our students are flying airplanes just about every day,” said Capt. Matt Tuohy, director of the school of aviation and military sciences. “We took in the largest class ever this past, this semester, and all of them started flying their first semester.”

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Capt. Tuohy said the experimental learning they provide gives students the best way to learn how to fly an airplane.

“The students are averaging about one year as a flight instructor then they’re in the right seat of a regional jet,” said Capt. Tuohy.

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Students in the program get to work with the regional jet simulator, in the cockpit before they graduate.

As for Savannah, she said once she graduates, she will most likely end up in Alaska to finish flight training.

“If you have a heart for aviation, it’s just that passion for it is what’s going to get you through training,” said Panting.

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