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Delta State University Celebrates Inaugural Class of Ag Pilots


Cleveland, MS –  Delta State University’s Commercial Aviation Department proudly recognized the first ten students to graduate with an Agricultural Aviation Operations Career Pathway Certification during a ceremony held on Friday, June 2. The event took place in the DSU airport hangar at the Cleveland Municipal Airport, marking a significant achievement for the program and its inaugural class.

Colonel Brad MacNealy, the Director of Flight Operations for the Commercial Aviation Department, expressed his enthusiasm for the program, describing it as the premier aerial applicator course not only in the United States but also globally. He emphasized the unique advantage the university enjoys by being situated in the heart of the world’s finest farmland, with the expertise of both the aviation program and the local agricultural community at their disposal. MacNealy hailed the partnership as a perfect synergy.

One of the program’s notable benefits, as highlighted by MacNealy, is that completion of the certification allows graduates to be hired by aerial applicator businesses without incurring increased insurance costs. This provision addresses a significant hurdle faced by new agricultural pilots and underscores the substantial insurance benefits provided through the program.

The creation of the Agricultural Aviation Operations Career Pathway Certification was the result of collaboration between Delta State University, area ag pilots, the Cleveland Airport Board, and numerous other stakeholders. Ike Brunetti, a key figure from Brunetti Flying Service in Shelby, played a pivotal role in organizing the program and provided invaluable guidance to the new pilots and their instructors throughout its development. During the ceremony, Brunetti encouraged the pilots and addressed the assembled friends, family, and supporters, emphasizing the importance of setting goals to transform dreams into reality.