UNK’s Aviation Student Organization Allows Students to Spread Their Wings

Posted: October 31, 2023 9:00:00 AM CDT

Dr. Dan Smith knows a thing or two about aviation. In fact, he knows more than most people do. His expertise started when he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1996. He then spent two decades flying aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps. During the first decade, Dr. Smith flew helicopters. He finished his military career flying the MV-22 Osprey which is the only operational tiltrotor aircraft in the world. Fortunately for aviation students at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, his “passion for helping others achieve their goals led (him) into teaching.” He has been serving as the coordinator for all aviation programs at UNK since 2021. He teaches first-year aviation courses where students are able to work toward their private pilot certification and instrument rating as well as learn about aviation history. Dr. Smith’s teaching responsibilities include teaching advanced courses as well. He teaches Advanced Aerodynamics and Advanced Aircraft Systems.

group pictures

This year Dr. Smith will add being the faculty advisor for the Aviation Student Organization to his schedule. He shares that he is “excited about the opportunity to help (the) aviation students build camaraderie and discover new opportunities to grow professionally and learn about and experience the aviation community.” Students in this club are typically aviation majors, but Dr. Smith stresses that the Aviation Student Organization is “open to anyone who is interested in aviation, whether they are pilots or not.”

 UNK’s Aviation Student Organization plans to meet on Monday evenings in Discovery Hall. While this club is “a work in progress,” it offers many opportunities to those interested in aviation. The members have visited the Lincoln Air Show with plans to take other tours of aviation museums and facilities during the school year. Guest speakers will be brought in to “discuss their aviation careers and provide networking opportunities in the aviation industry.” Dr. Smith is “excited to mentor the group’s leadership and help develop their leadership skills” as well as the “leadership skills of all future members of the organization.”

Group Picture in front of airplane

Dr. Smith encourages “everyone to check out the Aviation Student Organization” or head over to his office to talk to him about all that is offered about aviation at UNK. He understands that this club is a unique chance to “be around like-minded people” who “love aviation.” He appreciates the fact that, through involvement in this club, UNK students are able to “learn from aviation professionals and explore (their) career possibilities.”

Students who aren’t actively involved in the aviation program, but who “have some interest in learning to fly,” are encouraged by Dr. Smith to visit this club where the members “can help (them) learn to fly.” You can learn more about UNK’s aviation program which includes the Aviation Student Organization by visiting their website.



By: Sandy Brannan

Category: Business and Technology, General

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