Indianola Enterprise-Tocsin

Hyde-Smith Helps DSU Celebrate Another Class of Ag Aviation Grads

By Jay Fletcher

The Delta State University Aviation Certification Ceremony felt more like a family reunion than a graduation event. 

A family reunion of pilots one might say. 

The bonds that were formed between the agricultural aviation operations students during their time at DSU will likely last for years. 

The six-month course of intense training and testing leaves no room for mistakes. 

The students became a family, and like any family, tears of joy for these young pilots rolled down the cheeks of trainers and coordinators alike. 

The guest speaker was Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith who said she was thrilled to be able to celebrate with the graduates. 

“These men are going all over the country to work, and the demand is so great, I want this program to be the biggest and best ag pilot training program in the country,” Hyde-Smith said, “I am so proud of it, and the wonderful people that are making it happen.”

The program got its start from a conversation Hyde-Smith had with Col. Brad McNealy and others in 2019 when she told them that she wanted to start an ag pilot program at DSU. 

DSU wasn’t an agriculture school, but it did have the state's only commercial pilot program.

The profession of ag pilot was dying with less than 3,000 pilots working and an average age of 52, and the demand for commercial and private pilots at an all-time high, this graduating class was all hired before they even finished training.

“It makes sense that we should be training these ag pilots here in the Mississippi Delta, Hyde-Smith said, “We have the most fertile soil than anywhere else in the world.”

Hyde-Smith said because of the passion of people, the program, which is in its third year, with its second class of graduates, is a success that they are considering expanding to train even more young ag pilots.