The College Tour: Preston Rivera
By Abbie Cochrane, SUU I March 09, 2022
Preston Rey Rivera was very excited to represent Southern Utah University in his segment of SUU’s episode of The College Tour. Coming all the way from Denton, Texas, Rivera is a senior at SUU studying aviation in the highly acclaimed program offered by the university. The College Tour is a new national TV series that provides a closer look at the heart of college campuses across the country. SUU is the first Utah campus to be featured.
Rivera began his flight career after serving in the U.S. Army as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician and becoming a certified helicopter pilot in his hometown. He then transferred to SUU to continue his education with the SUU Aviation program. He was greatly impressed by SUU’s ability to offer challenging academic courses, while maintaining a small class size and giving him the small, college town experience. But what truly pulled him to SUU’s Aviation program was the elevation of Cedar City’s airport, which is 5,622 feet, making it the highest collegiate flight school in the United States.
“The additional challenges you’ll face while flying at higher altitudes will certainly enhance your skills as a pilot,” Rivera states in the episode.
Pilots at SUU experience all types of flight operations, such as mountain and sling load operations, and even flying with night-vision goggles. Taking it one step further, SUU is home to the Chuck Aaron Academy. The program is for pilots with more experience and trains them in advanced recovery techniques so that they can stay safe while flying real missions. Pilots train in a specialized helicopter affectionately named “The Animal.” This helicopter is one of very few FAA-certified helicopters for aerobatic flight.
“Whether you want to fly airplanes, helicopters, become an aircraft maintenance technician, or even take advantage of the specialized training offered here at SUU, the hands-on learning you’ll get through any of our aviation programs will set you on the right path for future success,” Rivera continued. “The high altitude training and unique flying opportunities SUU has provided has definitely set me up for my future career in aviation.” And it shows. Rivera now works as a flight instructor for the program.
SUU’s episode of the College Tour aired August 19, 2021 and is available for viewing on YouTube, Amazon Prime and The College Tour website. The episode features ten students from different fields and majors offered on campus. Each student gives their own experience about their time on campus and their own story about the university. Learn more about The College Tour students.