Assistant Chief Flight Instructor Cody Unruh.
Please introduce yourself and describe your background in aviation.
My name is Cody Unruh, and I am the assistant chief flight instructor at Henderson State University. I was introduced to the world of aviation at a young age. My dad was a jet engine technician in the U.S Air Force, and early on I was able to see many different facets of aviation. As I grew up, my aspirations changed from becoming a pilot in the military to becoming an airline pilot. After high school, I attended Henderson State and earned all of the required pilot’s licenses. To date, I have 18 years of aviation experience split between being a student, being a professional pilot, working in aviation management, and being an instructor. Out of all of these, providing quality instruction to students has proven to be the most fulfilling thing I have had the opportunity to do.
What is your favorite part of piloting a plane?
Flying into busy airports such as Dallas is always a fun challenge. The workload can be challenging getting in and out of those busier airspaces, including being funneled into a major airport alongside numerous other aircraft, and air traffic controllers continuously talking on the radio. But successfully accomplishing those trips are challenges I enjoy. Another aspect I enjoy is the view. Climbing through an overcast cloud layer into the clear blue sky above is always an awesome sight.
Please share something unique about yourself that most people don’t know.
I’m an avid outdoorsman. I enjoy spending time on the lake.
What advice would you give to students aspiring to major in aviation?
Before beginning their flight training, I would advise students to visit the school of their choice and do a site visit. See if you fit the school and if the school fits you. I would also recommend that you take a discovery flight at Henderson to get a taste of what flying a small airplane is like if you have never flown before.
Once you’ve started flight training, be resilient and stay dedicated. Our instructors are among the best in this business -- they are the most dedicated and helpful professionals I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, but they can’t do the work for you. Having a positive attitude and the ability to work as a member of a team goes a long way.
Why should a student choose Henderson State to pursue his or her aviation degree?
While Henderson State University may not be a household name in the world of flight schools, we remain the most affordable college in the state of Arkansas while providing a level of training that continues to exceed the standards set forth by the FAA. HSU’s aviation program has been helping students reach their career goals since the mid 1970s, and we continue to grow and evolve to support the next generation of pilots.
What strategies/technology do you use to engage students in your classes?
Our program incorporates many different tools and technologies into a student’s learning experience. Part of our training includes traditional classroom instruction, often supplemented with teaching aids such as our cutaway engines, virtual wind tunnels, and various iPad apps, among others. Outside of the classroom, students are provided with opportunities to visit with our aircraft maintenance department, which gives students a chance to further understand the systems of the aircraft they are flying. Our Redbird flight simulators are used heavily by our instrument flight students. Of course, the highlight of aviation education is the time spent in the airplane, flying to various destinations throughout the region while learning the skills and gaining the real-world experience necessary to become successful in the industry.
One of our more popular learning experiences includes traveling to various air traffic control facilities in our region. These site visits are often done in conjunction with a visit to an airline, cargo carrier, or corporate flight department. Trips like these allow students to learn first-hand how the “bigger picture” of aviation works in terms of the air traffic control system, how “big airplanes” and “little airplanes” share the same airspace, and the importance of networking within the industry.