I continue to enjoy my new EAA membership, and am super impressed with our KEUG Chapter 1457 because the monthly meetings are not just a bunch of hangar flyers, but instead a means to learn something new.
Yes, it is true I cannot attend one of these meetings without the subject of rivets coming up. At the April meeting's informal pre-meeting dinner, the “riveting” discussion was about something called “clecos” which I learned are an intimate friend of anyone building an experimental airplane.
|EAA Chapter 1457 President, Bob McManus, left, and|
Taylor J-2 Cub owner Steve Kretsinger look over a Curtiss
OX-5 engine on display at the LCC teaching hangar.
But the best part of this month's meeting was a tour of the Lane Community College Aviation Maintenance Technician program's teaching facility. Hosted by LCC instructor Keith Bird, this was a productive few hours as I learned plenty about what it takes to earn an Airframe and Powerplant License.
The LCC program started way back in 1938, so it is mature, well-structured, and successful. The two FT and three PT instructors teach 15 classes, five about airframes, five about powerplants and five general. The average age of the program's students is 28, with the oldest being 68 years old. Students come from all over the world to attend this program, mainly because of its reputation in the industry. “We get calls and emails every week from people in the industry looking for technicians,” Bird said, “any student who wants a job can get a job. Many start at $16 to $28 an hour, but in places like Alaska that can be more. Most of LCC's AMT program graduates end up in management within five years.”
As they learn, students are exposed to all segments of airframe repair and maintenance, plus both reciprocating and gas turbine engines. It is this well-rounded education that keeps Bird's email buzzing with companies looking for technicians. Classes are held in a modern facility with wall-to-wall equipment of all types, including computer stations, engine analysis, magnafluxing, and every sort of machine needed to return an airplane to service.
That phrase...”return to service” is a key part of the LCC program. Because they are an FAA Repair Station, one of the last classes a student takes is Bird's Return To Service (RTS) course. It is critical information that prepares the student to enter the A & P workforce ready to earn decent money from day one. But before that first paycheck, the students first have to pass the FAA written test:
Bird's RTS class is the real deal. It's where classroom and lab work meets reality, and students are transformed into new technicians about to start working in the trade. Each day in this intense class, Bird gives the students practice FAA test questions. He seems relentless on this aspect of training at LCC...passing the FAA test is not taken lightly, because after 1,900 hours in the program and about $9,500 per student for tuition, fees and books, getting past the written is not an option if a job is to be had on the other side of graduation day.
I was blown away by the vast amount of teaching opportunities available in the LCC Aviation Maintenance Technician Program. I have always said that if someone that is good with tools was young, eager, dependable, willing to travel and liked airplanes, a great job and bright future was available as an aircraft maintenance technician.
After touring the LCC facility, I know this to be true.