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University of North Dakota ROTC cadet Rylee Groth rappells his way down the side of the old Med School building during a training exercise for the Alpha Co. 1st and 2nd platoons of the Army ROTC Fighting Hawks batallion in this file photo. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service

Army ROTC flight training program returning to UND

GRAND FORKS - The U.S. Army ROTC flight training program is returning to the University of North Dakota.

Funding was secured with the help of Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., through appropriations in the Nation Defense Act through Fiscal Year 2019. The funding will cover flight training costs for up to 15 cadets per year, according to a news release from UND.

The flight training program allows cadets to complete a four-year degree in aviation while receiving training as a pilot and a commission as an Army officer. The program previously only included certification for helicopter pilots, but now has been expanded to add unmanned aircraft systems and fixed wing certifications.

Funding for the program, which had existed at the school since the 1980s, was discontinued in 2010, but cadets who still were a part of the program were grandfathered in and allowed to finish their training, said UND spokesman David Dodds.

“For 30 years, UND’s helicopter flight training purposefully aligned with the needs of the U.S. Army. Cadets graduating through the training program were put on the fast track to start their military careers, given their top-of-the-line instruction from UND Aerospace,” the university said in the release.

The return of the program also brings a greater focus on unmanned aircraft systems operations for cadets, which will help advance their piloting capabilities, the university said.

Hoeven will join UND Aerospace Dean Paul Lindseth, President Mark Kennedy, Col. Kenneth D. McRae of U.S. Army Cadet Command and State Aviation Officer Lt. Col. Paul Hilton of the North Dakota National Guard on Tuesday morning, March 12, in the James C. Ray Helicopter Hangar at Grand Forks International Airport to celebrate the return of the program.

UND recently received “gold status” for military friendliness, according to UND also ranks ninth in the country for Tier 2 military-friendly colleges, which include universities like Mississippi State University, Texas State University and Drexel University. North Dakota State University has silver status in military friendliness, according to the site.

Institutions are scored on various metrics, including first- and second-year retention rates for military students, graduation rates, job placement rates and loan default rates, among others. Schools also are scored on their culture and commitment to students involved in the military.