Friday Faculty Focus: Skip Bailey

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April 21st, 2017

UNO’s Skip Bailey poses for a photo. (Photo by Brandon McDermott)

On this week’s episode of Friday Faculty Focus, KVNO student reporter Brandon McDermott talks to Flight Training Coordinator of the Aviation Institute at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Skip Bailey. Bailey has more than 5,200 flight hours and passes his experience on to students in the program.


Brandon McDermott: Skip Bailey, thanks for joining me on that on this week’s episode.

Skip Bailey: I’m very glad to be here thank you.

Brandon: Before coming to UNO, you were a pilot in the United States Air Force for 25 years. You retired as a Lieutenant Colonel just last year. Why teach others about aviation and flying?

Skip: I just I really like to teach. I’ve always enjoyed doing that. When I was in the Air Force I was an instructor for many years. This just seemed like a real good transition for me to come from flying aircraft and watching the Air Force pilots teaching essentially from the beginning of flying all the way up through the later years of flying – to come back and actually I guess give back and teach new students a new generation how to fly airplanes.

Brandon: You’re also the flight training coordinator in the UNO Aviation Institute. How was your time that you went over this past year or so as coordinator of flight training been?

Skip: It’s been great. Great faculty. I came into a great program Dr. Scott Terry is the director and he’s has been phenomenal – helped me out quite a bit. The learning curve has been almost straight up – all my flying is military and to go back and have to essentially really learn general aviation flying – is a whole different ballgame. Then you go back and realize that the students you teach are starting from the beginning and it’s been a long time since I started from the beginning in flying, but it’s been a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it – working hard and having a blast.

Brandon: Training students who are starting at the beginning – what kinds of working experience do these aviation students get here at UNO?

Skip: Initially, they don’t get a lot of working experience directly. Their experience is more about how to fly airplanes. But we definitely teach them a lot about the aviation business, because that’s what we want them to go into – to go fly for either as a commuter – corporate aviation – or for most of them commercial aviation. To do that, we have a lot of aviation industry experts come in and see them and talk to them about what’s going on out in the community – how is commercial aviation changing? We bring back alumni and have them talk to them.

Just recently this past fall another one of the faculty Scott Vlacek arranged to have 45 students and faculty fly down to Dallas, we got a tour down there. We have partners with some of the regional airlines that come in and see our students and mentor them, so there’s quite a bit that goes on as far as trying to learn about it. But actual – if you want to say – working experience, I think most of it – when you’re actually hands on – is learning how to fly airplanes.

Brandon: At any point do undergrads, or is it just graduates, that get to get in the plane and fly?

Skip: Oh yes, they start from day one, we want to on the plane flying. There’s a kind of a route which you take, you start off learning how to fly and get your private pilot certificate. From there we want to learn how to fly with using instruments and to get a commercial rating and then from there to become eventually what we call a CFI – a certified flight instructor- so they can teach others.

Brandon: Just an entry interesting note here you’ve flown the last five Secretaries of Defense – you were telling me you’re in the pre-interview – that’s a pretty big honor, talk about that.

Skip: It is a big honor. The last platform I flew in the Air Force was called the E-4. It’s essentially a military 747. That was our secondary mission when the Secretary of Defense and his staff wanted to fly overseas we were the mode of transportation. They don’t like to have to stop in between destinations, so they we can refuel in the air and to be able to fly them in their staff as it was quite an honor. It’s one of those where (there’s) a bit of pressure because you have to be able to get that gas in the air, you have to be able to do it smoothly and get them there on time. (There’s) definitely a VIP flying which (was) great.

Brandon: Before coming to you when you were the commander of ROTC at Kent State University. Why did UNO make sense to you?

Skip: One, it was local, which was nice. I have three children and my wife and we really enjoy Omaha. We’ve lived here I think 12 of the last 16 years and just absolutely love it. Kent State also as an aviation program and I knew about it because of what I was teaching there with ROTC and the Air Force. When I found out that UNO had one I immediately contacted them. But, for a few years they didn’t have an open position – I kind of lucky. It just made sense to stay here locally and be able to fly. I know the local area for flight, so it’s all of it just kind of fell into place.

Brandon: Skip Bailey, thanks again for coming on the show.

Skip: Thank you very much appreciated.

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