The copters are coming: agreement brings rotary training to UCM Aviation Department

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(Photo by ANDREW MATHER, Photo Editor)
(Photo by ANDREW MATHER, Photo Editor)

Story by ANDY LYONS, News Editor—
Helicopters will start cruising around Warrensburg as early as this summer after a memorandum of understanding was signed March 28. University of Central Missouri President Charles Ambrose and KC Copters owner Johnny Rowlands penned the deal that brings private helicopter flight training to Max. B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport.
KC Copters already offers the training through a facility located at the Johnson County Executive Airport in Olathe, Kan. Plans call for the private instruction to be available at Skyhaven Airport as early as summer 2013. The ground training will take place at the newly renamed MULE Center, which stands for multi-use learning education and was named by Fred Schieszer, a 30-year aviation professor. The MULE Center, which is the current Airport East Building, is one of the existing buildings at Skyhaven that is being renovating to house the ground rotary training.
Tony Monetti, assistant dean of aviation, said he sees bringing rotary training to UCM and working with a company like KC Copters as a positive change moving forward.
“UCM aviation is excited about the opportunity to offer our students rotary wing training opportunities,” he said. “There is a global demand for helicopter pilots and KC Copters is a great fit with UCM aviation.  They are passionate about aviation and safety. They have modern equipment and top-notch instructor pilots.”
Ambrose echoed Monetti’s thoughts and sees the addition of rotary training as an opportunity for UCM and, more importantly, UCM aviation.
“With a global pilot shortage, the addition of rotary training to UCM aviation broadens the options available for students for both a degree and, more importantly, additional career options for their future,” he said. “As we continue to strengthen the academic program and Skyhaven as a classroom, the university and community are provided a stronger foundation for future growth and development. These programs also help to keep the aviation program for students on a national basis.”
Per the memorandum of understanding, UCM’s responsibilities include previously arranged traffic patterns and practice areas, routine maintenance of the aircraft, classroom space, and providing facilities acceptable to flight standards for 141 certificate of operations.
KC Copters’ responsibilities include ground and flight instruction at certain fees, student evaluations, instructional materials, providing a Certificate of Insurance naming UCM as additional insured with a standard of $2 million, and maintaining 141 flight school certificate of operations with local Flight Standards District Offices.
KC Copters was founded by Rowlands, a veteran helicopter pilot and reporter for KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Mo. During his 20,000-plus hours of incident-free flight, Rowlands has crafted a flying and learning environment that emphasizes risk management and enhanced safety margins under the acronym of “S.M.A.R.T” flying, which stands for “Scenario-Based Management of Airborne Risk Training.”
KC Copters is an FAA approved flight training school and will offer private flight training programs to the public, leading to the helicopter private pilot, instrument, commercial pilot, certified flight instructor or certified flight instructor instrument licensing.
Shortly after the signing, Rowlands took Ambrose on a helicopter ride over the UCM campus.
“It was a beautiful day to fly and Johnny makes it even more enjoyable,” Ambrose said. “Both the takeoff and landings were incredibly smooth. Combine that with a 360-degree view from the cockpit, it allowed for me to give him a great aerial tour of campus and the city of Warrensburg. I still haven’t decided if I am going to begin my pilot training in fixed wing or rotary!”
For more information about KC Copters and its training programs, visit