Flying high

WWU hosts Air Force JROTC training program for third year

The Walla Walla University Department of Technology is hosting a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program conducted by the U.S. Air Force for the third consecutive year this summer. According to Rob Holm, professor of technology, the USAF has been pleased with the results and feedback from WWU’s efforts and is glad to continue providing world-class instruction using WWU facilities. 

The staff and equipment within the Department of Technology’s aviation technology and aviation management programs are making this opportunity possible for the JROTC cadets. “It’s no small task to take a group of 12 high school and college students from nothing to licensed pilot in eight weeks,” said Holm. WWU has several flight instructors directly teaching the cadets both in the air and on the ground, one specific lecturer dedicated to teaching their Private Pilot Lectures class, and at least four aircraft used in instruction six hours daily. Highly qualified maintenance and repair staff from WWU keep the aircraft flying. 

A highly competitive and selective program, the JROTC program provides young pilots with a very unique and educational experience. The USAF completely funded the program but partnered with 26 other universities and flight schools in addition to WWU to provide the training. 

Nathaniel Sanchez, director of aviation at WWU, explained he has been actively ensuring that all instructors are on the same page in regard to their teaching methods. This year, ground training and flight lessons are being coordinated into a more synchronized format that has simplified the training process from previous years. 

“The response to the program has been terrific,” Holm said. “Our success rate with cadets passing their private pilot checkride is quite high.” He also mentioned that one cadet who attended the program last year didn’t want to leave WWU because her experience was so positive. 

This year, the cadets include college students from the University of Tennessee, Duke University, and the University of South Carolina as well as a number of high school students. Holm has heard many favorable comments about the quality of instruction received, the quality of the aircraft, and how much the cadets appreciate the friendly atmosphere at WWU both in and out of the flight program. “We work hard to keep the cadets well-fed, well-rested, and appropriately occupied on the weekends during their intensive training,” said Holm. 

To learn more about the Department of Technology at WWU, visit

Posted Aug. 2, 2023

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