Aurora College, Fort Smith flight school launching aviation diploma

Aurora College is to offer an aviation business diploma in partnership with Fort Smith’s Terry Harrold School of Aviation.

The diploma, a two-year program, will launch in September this year. The goal is for students to obtain a pilot’s licence from the aviation school while achieving their diploma at the college.

“The combined program is designed to both help address the pilot shortage in the northern aviation industry and to complement technical flying skills with business knowledge and skills that can better position graduates for employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in the North,” Aurora College said in a news release last week.


“It will prepare graduates for employment in business and government positions in northern aviation.”

Fort Smith’s Northwestern Air launched the flight school in 2019. At the time, the then-84-year-old pilot for whom it is named memorably deadpanned: “I wish they’d waited until I was dead, that would have been better.”

In last week’s news release, Northwestern chief operating officer James Heidema said the partnership with Aurora College would “better serve their students and offer a significant program.”

Dr Glenda Vardy Dell, Aurora College’s new president, said the diploma was “an excellent example of the types of partnerships that will help us … support the transformation of Aurora College into a polytechnic university.”

That transformation, in progress for the past four years, is expected to be largely complete by 2025.