K-State Polytechnic students take flight

Thanks to the generosity and cooperation of K-State alumni, friends and donors, these students are leading the way for K-Staters to follow their flight.

To see the world from 13,000 feet

Jacob Cowart, sophomore in aeronautical technology, has long nurtured a dream to fly. His pursuit of flight has included studying unmanned aircraft systems flight and operations, aviation and aeronautical technology. Because Jacob has used a wheelchair since he was five years old following an accident, his chance to fly depended on having access to hand controls in an aircraft. Thanks to his tenacity and help from the aviation maintenance department at K-State Polytechnic and the FAA, Jacob now has the opportunity to learn to fly and catch a birds-eye view of Kansas from a Cessna 172 in K-State Polytechnic’s aviation fleet that has been outfitted with hand controls.

 “People go through things that require them to test themselves and not take things for granted. I’ve done a lot of things I didn’t think would be possible,” Jacob said. “I grew up in hospitals and doctors’ offices and was told what I could expect and what I could do. But I didn’t like anything I was being told, and I’ve wanted to fly since I was twelve.”

The K-State family has helped make Jacob’s dream more accessible. Soon, Jacob will take flight in the skies above Kansas and beyond.

Working to help others get off the ground

When Maddie Perry, senior in aeronautical technology, was in elementary school, her dad invited her to join him as he piloted a four-seater airplane, and she fell in love. With flying. Since then, she has embarked on her own professional pilot education at K-State Polytechnic while serving as a resident assistant, earning her certified flight instructor certificate, teaching new pilots and captaining the flight team.

“When you are flying, no one can help you out. You have to rely on training,” Maddie said. “You have to love being a pilot to be successful.”

Maddie pursued her professional pilot’s license at K-State Polytechnic because of the many opportunities available to students and the “home feeling” she experienced during her college visit. She also has appreciated the support of K-State family as the recipient of scholarships which helped make her dream to become a professional pilot more affordable.

After Maddie graduates next year, she plans to work for Republic Airline. Last spring semester, she learned she had been among the few K-Staters chosen for the airline’s Aviation Career Pipeline Interview Program where she hopes to make captain in two years and lead the way for more women to pursue their professional pilot licenses.

Pathway to a dream

Max Badgett has forged a long journey to his dream of becoming an astronaut. From sunny southern California to winters working on his grandparents’ farm in Valley Falls, Kansas, and to K-State Polytechnic following high school graduation.

“I didn’t know aviation was a pathway to becoming an astronaut, but when I was in tenth grade, my mom said if I wanted to be an astronaut, I needed to find out what it was going to take to get there,” Max said. “We looked online at the requirements to become an astronaut. Later, we found K-State Polytechnic, which is both close to home and an aviation-focused campus of professional pilots, engineers, UAS and some social work. Studying here — we are all doing what we love.”

With his sister, Suvana, studying entrepreneurship at K-State’s Manhattan campus, Max moved a little further west on I-70 to Salina where he served as a resident assistant while attending K-State, was a member of the Air Force ROTC cadre and earned K-State Polytechnic’s Outstanding Senior Award. He relied upon his work ethic and scholarships to help pave the way to becoming an astronaut, and since his spring ’18 graduation, pilot training at the Air Force Academy. There, he will compete for a chance to pilot F-22 Raptors. Max then plans to earn his aerospace engineering degree and become a test pilot like Buzz Aldrin.

“Being an astronaut has always been my dream; I’ve never wavered,” Max said. “K-State Polytechnic fosters professionalism, and K-State’s ROTC detachment gives me the chance to network in the industry.”

Thanks to the generosity and cooperation of K-State alumni, friends and donors, Jacob, Maddie and Max are leading the way for other K-Staters to follow their flight. 

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