Fly-in Supports WNCC Aviation Club
October 17, 2018
Western Nebraska Community College students traded their textbooks and wrenches for spatulas and paper plates Saturday morning, serving pilots and the community a breakfast of sausage, pancakes, coffee and juice.
It is an event that is part fly-in, part fundraiser for the Flying Club. Proceeds from the breakfast help with costs of field trips for the Aviation Maintenance students, and to help fund flying lessons.
WNCC has the only Federal Aviation Administration approved 147 program in the state of Nebraska, according to Mike Mitchell. Mitchell has been teaching aviation maintenance since 1969 when the program was based north of Sidney.
Mitchell says students who enroll in the program receive 1,900 hours of instruction. The program is divided into three phases: general, airframe maintenance and power plant. After completing the course, a student is eligible to take the FAA examinations for the airframe and power plant license.
The program accepts up to 30 students per class.
"Right now, we have 23 students," Mitchell said.
Open enrollment starts in the fall. He added students do not meet in the summer, which offers time for students to do internships in the aviation field.
WNCC's Aviation Maintenance program attracts students from states including Eastern Wyoming, Western South Dakota, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska. The facility, located at the Sidney airport, has four different single-engine planes, and a Citation business jet, for student instruction.
Mitchell said aviation has a growing attraction with the number of experienced pilots and mechanics who are retiring.
"Right now, aviation field, maintenance field is wide open," he said.
Mitchell said he is constantly receiving calls for help.
Mitchell said one of the advantages of the WNCC program is it can be completed in 21 months, and all of the testing can be done at the local site.