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Small Okla. aviation school in line for $1B deal to train Iraqi pilots

April 14, 2017

A private, for-profit aeronautics school in Oklahoma has been named as the principal contractor on a potential $1.06 billion deal to train pilots and aviation mechanics in Iraq.

The whopping contract is a huge deal for the cutting-edge Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology — which currently touts its drone operations training — that is little known outside of defense circles, even though it has been around since 1928.

“The proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to provide for a stable, sovereign, and democratic Iraq, capable of combating terrorism and protecting its people and sovereignty,” the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement on Wednesday.

Under the five-year deal, which the State Department has approved, Iraq will be able to keep its pilots and support staff in country and cut its reliance on overseas training. Iraq currently has a fleet of 12 C-172, five C-208, and 15 T-6 training aircraft.

“Iraq will decrease its overseas training requirements, significantly reducing costs, and enhancing its ability to take over the sustainment of its aircraft,” the statement said.

Which begs the question: What the heck is Spartan College?

Aimee Brown, chief marketing officer for the school, said there was still a 30-day waiting period before the contract is finalized for the 1,500-student school, whose emblem is the number 13 inside the image of a black cat and the motto “Knowledge and skill overcome superstition and luck.”

“No champagne corks popping yet,” she said.

Spartan College

“It’s really exploded for us over the last three years,” said the president of the flight campus, Ryan Goertrzen, in a story about the school’s new, $300,000 flight simulator.

Headquartered in Tulsa, the four-year school has two additional campuses in greater Los Angeles and a new campus in Denver and says it even trains U.S. Air Force personnel in flight and maintenance skills.

The school was founded by William G. Skelly in 1928, initially to promote is aircraft company, which he used as collateral for a loan from the famous tycoon J. Paul Getty. Skelly’s finances foundered during The Depression and Getty took control of the aircraft company and the school in 1935.

The U.S. Army Air Corps used the school for training during World War II and even trained pilots for Britain’s Royal Air Force.

The contract agreement will require the deployment of approximately four U.S. government representatives and 50 to 55 contractor representatives to Iraq.

The potential sale will support Iraq’s capacity to train pilots and maintenance technicians in-country as well as reduce overseas training requirements and costs.

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