First CSU aeronautics student takes solo flight

June 9, 2021

Harrison Hunt made history a few days ago, making his mark as Charleston Southern University’s first aeronautics student to take a solo flight.

The flight—in a Diamond DA-20 aircraft—was next level for Hunt in what he recounted as a liberating experience. “I was a bit anxious at first because I knew I would be by myself with no instructor as a safety net. But the feeling of accomplishment and knowing that I had taken a massive step in the direction of becoming a pilot far overshadowed that.”

With dreams of being a pilot for as long as he could remember, the CSU sophomore changed his major to aeronautics from engineering during freshman year. “I initially planned to be an engineering major to pay for flight school and later become a pilot, but when CSU announced the aeronautics program, I knew I couldn’t let this chance slip through my fingers.”

Colonel Christopher “C.J.” Will, U.S. Air Force (retired) and founding aeronautics program chair, said that a typical student will solo after 10-12 hours of training in the aircraft, depending upon progression through the training syllabus. Some may solo in as few as eight hours.

CSU partners with CRAFT Flight Training and Simulation to offer FAA-approved simulators for flight instruction. In Hunt’s recorded video of the first solo flight, one may not be able to distinguish real from the simulated experience. Will said new simulators are that realistic.

“I love his opening narration, ‘Let’s get to it!’” Will said of the recording. “Harrison is an outstanding student and is also doing very well in CSU’s Air Force ROTC program.”

Currently, two students are flying in summer session. However, a full cohort begins this fall with upwards of 30 students expected in the inaugural class. Will said applications far exceeded expectations.

CSU’s Bachelor of Science in aeronautics (professional pilot) officially begins this fall and is the only collegiate program in the state of South Carolina. Students will be able to choose between three main tracks: commercial, military, or missionary aviation. Learn more about this unique degree offering at


About Charleston Southern University

Founded in 1964 in the heart of the Charleston metro area, Charleston Southern University is a private, Christian liberal arts university. With an enrollment of 3,378 students, CSU offers more than 65 academically rigorous and faith-integrated undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs. Charleston Southern is one of South Carolina’s largest accredited, independent universities and has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as #21 nationally for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs and #13 for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans. Students can learn online or in a traditional classroom setting, all while discovering their pathway to purpose.