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Archive for Thursday, September 27, 2001

KSU-Salina flight program director says terrorists couldn’t hack program

September 27, 2001

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— Kansas State University's Salina campus received an inquiry from the FBI about its flight program after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But the school's director says there have been only a handful of international students in what he describes as a "very, very rigid" program.

Dennis Kuhlman, dean of the college of aviation and technology, said he got a letter from the FBI on Sept. 17, requesting a list of all students who had ever participated in the Salina flight program.

The names were given to an agent, but Kuhlman hasn't had any further contact from investigators. He said similar requests probably went to flight schools across the nation.

"All of us were under the same kind of scrutiny, because we are the same type of school as Embry-Riddle," Kuhlman said.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida is where two alleged hijackers learned the skills required to pilot a commercial jet.

Kuhlman said the directories from the Salina school weren't likely to turn up any suspects because it has served only a handful of international students.

As with other schools, earning an aviation degree from KSU-Salina is a two-pronged program.

"Our responsibility is to provide the educational background for our students to pursue their career goals, but alongside that is the pilot licensing that is all done by the FAA," Kuhlman said.

During the first phase of pilot licensing, students are required to take a physical exam, file paperwork and submit it to a national database.

In that process, students are required to list any convictions. The FAA has the ability to conduct a full background check, Kuhlman said.

Kuhlman is confident a terrorist couldn't hack it in the KSU-Salina flight program.

"We're very, very rigid in the way we run our program," he said, citing the required uniforms and reliance on team learning. "We set very high expectations of our students, and employers who hire our graduates have the same high expectations."

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