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Marshall University’s Bill Noe Flight School Officially Takes Off in Charleston

David Adkins
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Marco, the Thundering Herd mascot, signals his approval of Marshall University's new Bill Noe Flight School at Charleston's Yeager Airport.

Marshall University hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, commemorating the official opening of its new flight school at the Yeager Airport in Charleston.

The Bill Noe Flight School will train students in aviation and aviation maintenance, some of the highest demand occupations.

Marshall founded the flight school with support from the Federal Economic Development Agency, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Kanawha County Commission

The flight school expects an inaugural class size of 50 pilots and 40 technicians.

During his speech, Marshall President Jerome Gilbert noted that plans to open the flight school started back in 2017 as a “vision of a lot of people who knew the potential.“

“Marshall saw the need and responded, and today we are taking a major step forward in providing new opportunities for students and addressing the needs of the aerospace industry,” Gilbert said.

The ceremony reflected the strong ties Marshall has with the cities of Huntington and Charleston. Both of the city’s mayors spoke about the potential the flight school brings to their municipalities. In addition, the flight school provides more accessibility for aviation education to the Appalachian region.

Bill Noe, the namesake of the flight school, worked with the university to develop the curriculum. He is the president and chief operations officer of the Columbus, Ohio-based company NetJets.

Noe has strong ties to the state. He is a Huntington native and Marshall graduate who serves as a member of Marshall University’s Board of Governors. While attending Marshall, he was part of the swim team from 1982 to 1986, where he won 10 conference titles. In 2020, He was inducted into the Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame.

“We will produce high-quality talent at the local, regional, national and global levels,” Noe said. “Congratulations to all, as we launch the Herd into the atmosphere.”

Currently, the flight school uses Cirrus SR 20, single-engine planes. The flight school plans on expanding its fleet to between 15 to 20 aircraft, starting with the planned purchase of twin-engine Piper Seminole planes.

Local residents are likely to soon see a glimpse of the flight school over Charleston, from a plane with a large, green “M” painted underneath.

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