(STILLWATER, Oklahoma, March 1, 2022) — Oklahoma State University celebrated an aviation milestone Saturday with the grand opening of the state-of-the-art Ray and Linda Booker OSU Flight Center.
The 11,500 square-foot building replaces OSU Aviation’s outdated facilities and more than doubles the space available to students and flight instructors. Building highlights include 35 workstations for flight instructors, debriefing rooms where student pilots will receive feedback, a student lounge and locker room, an academic suite and flight simulation rooms. The facility is located southwest of Stillwater Regional Airport along North Airport Road.
“With this new flight center, we now have a home that matches the energy, passion and success of our students and faculty,” said Jon Pedersen, dean of OSU’s College of Education and Human Sciences.
He added that enrollment in the aviation program has grown by 40 percent in recent years and that the college has added five new Cirrus SR20 planes to its fleet.
“The Ray and Linda Booker OSU Flight Center puts our program in a position to continue to grow as we attract and retain high-caliber students,” Pedersen said. “With common areas, space for individual flight debriefings and more, this incredible building will truly enhance our flight operation and serve our students well.”
Oklahoma State University is one of fewer than 20 universities in the U.S. to offer graduate aviation degrees and has become a pipeline for trained professionals to start careers in an industry with a dwindling workforce. In addition to training students to become pilots, OSU Aviation prepares students for careers in aviation management, aerospace security and technical service.
“Staying true to our land-grant mission, Oklahoma State University will help fill the demand for trained and skilled professionals in the aviation industry,” Pedersen said.
The facility was named in recognition of a 2019 gift from Linda Booker and her late husband, Ray, who graduated from OSU A&M in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Both held private pilot licenses, were passionate about aviation and wanted to increase the number of OSU-trained pilots around the world.
“We met students and we could see that they are just as enthusiastic and passionate about flying and aviation as Ray was when he started out,” Linda Booker said. “This flight center is going to expand the number of students this program can take. And the demand is there.”
Including the Bookers, a total of 17 families and organizations named spaces inside the facility through private donations.
Pedersen said he hopes the Ray and Linda Booker OSU Flight Center will grow to become an aviation complex that will eventually include aircraft storage to protect the university’s fleet of aircraft and a new maintenance hangar.
“Oklahoma State University is proud of our aviation program, and this new center positions us well for future growth,” said Kyle Wray, senior vice president of executive affairs, who spoke on behalf of President Kayse Shrum’s office. “It will also provide the best educational experience to our students wanting to work in the aviation field. There are many like Ray and Linda Booker who gave generously to this project, and we are incredibly thankful for their contributions.”
To learn more about how to get involved, visit OSUgiving.com/AviationComplex.