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It was your standard press conference of speeches at the podium, a polite audience, and the ceremonial christening of the aircraft. Standard, right up until the guest speaker, Congressman Jim Bridenstine, got into the pilot's seat and took it for a little spin, up, up and away, just like growth at Spartan.

"We've seen tremendous growth over the last year in our student enrollment," said Spartan President Ryan Goertzen.

Their pilot program has more than doubled with both students from around the country and from around the world.

"I like to fly very much," said Michael Li, one of 66 students from China.

"I spent a lot of trips out to China. We had quite a few of the Chinese airlines here as long as, as well as their kind of equivalent to the FAA. They came here as well and re-certified our school and now we're able to train Chinese pilots," said Goertzen.

"I'm training for the captain for the airline, for my airline, Chengdu airline," said Li.

Meanwhile, as for that local flight that took off moments ago...

"It's very windy out here, a lot of gusts," said Congressman Bridenstine, a Naval aviator, pumped about Spartan's new aircraft that will expand the pilot program.

"There are more students that will be coming here, clearly people are seeing that Spartan College of Aeronautics is growing," he said.

Taking flight, a new chapter for Spartan, as they broaden their reach into the friendly skies.






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