STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – Oklahoma State University celebrated the opening of the Ray and Linda Booker OSU Flight Center on Saturday.

The 11,500 square-foot building, described by OSU officials as state of the art, replaces outdated facilities and is more than twice the size of the previous facilities.

The facility, located southwest of Stillwater Regional Airport along North Airport Road, includes 35 flight instructor workstations, debriefing rooms where student pilots will receive feedback, student lounge and locker room, academic suite and flight simulation rooms. 

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Linda Booker celebrates with her family at the Feb. 26 grand opening of the Ray and Linda Booker Flight Center. Photo from OSU.

University officials regard the flight center as an aviation milestone.

“With this new flight center, we now have a home that matches the energy, passion and success of our students and faculty,” said Jon Pedersen, dean of OSU’s College of Education and Human Sciences.

Aviation program enrollment has grown by 40 percent in recent years. The college has added five new Cirrus SR20 planes to its fleet, according to Pedersen.

“The Ray and Linda Booker OSU Flight Center puts our program in a position to continue to grow as we attract and retain high-caliber students,” Pedersen said. “With common areas, space for individual flight debriefings and more, this incredible building will truly enhance our flight operation and serve our students well.”

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Tara Serocki, a December 2021 graduate with a degree in aerospace administration and operations, speaks at the grand opening event about the importance of the new Ray and Linda Booker OSU Flight Center. Photo from OSU.

OSU offers graduate aviation degrees; fewer than 20 U.S. universities offer such degrees.

The facility’s name recognizes a 2019 gift from Linda Booker and her late husband, Ray, who graduated from OSU A&M in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. The Bookers held private pilot licenses, had passion for aviation and wanted to increase the number of OSU-trained pilots across the globe.

“We met students and we could see that they are just as enthusiastic and passionate about flying and aviation as Ray was when he started out,” Linda Booker said. “This flight center is going to expand the number of students this program can take. And the demand is there.”

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From left: Jon Pedersen, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, Linda Booker, Blaire Atkinson, president of the OSU Foundation, and Pistol Pete celebrate the grand opening of the Ray and Linda Booker OSU Flight Center. Photo from OSU.

Seventeen families and organizations, including the Bookers, named spaces inside the facility through private donations.

Pedersen wants the facility to eventually become an aviation complex that will include aircraft storage to protect the university’s aircraft fleet and a new maintenance hangar. 

“Oklahoma State University is proud of our aviation program, and this new center positions us well for future growth,” said Kyle Wray, senior vice president of executive affairs, who spoke on behalf of President Kayse Shrum’s office. “It will also provide the best educational experience to our students wanting to work in the aviation field. There are many like Ray and Linda Booker who gave generously to this project, and we are incredibly thankful for their contributions.”