Spreading their wings

Aviation mechanics class exhibit life lessons, opportunities


Photo by Alyssa Higgins

Senior Connor Nations is pursuing his pilot’s license while taking the aviation mechanics class. Aviation mechanics students examined the inside of a plane in the hangar of SAU Tech.

Story by Victoria Van, editor in chief

The sky’s the limit. From the cockpit to the hangar, students dedicate time and energy into learning all they can about airplanes. Most of us will only experience planes in a passenger seat, but students of Southern Arkansas University’s aviation program jet straight into the action.

The Aviation mechanics class introduces students to the technical and hands-on aspects of the flying machine.

“The classes give students an opportunity to get college credit in high school,” senior Conner Elliott said. “This is a program that can get you far in life. I always liked working on things. Plus, it’s not like pen or pencil work all the time. It’s more hands-on. I’m learning what I’m doing and applying it outside of a textbook.”

Senior Connor Nations is taking classes at the airport to obtain his pilot’s license and recognizes the importance of knowledge that the class provides.

“I didn’t know much about planes or anything like that [at first],” Nations said. “I knew this is what I wanted to go into was aviation, and I wanted to fly. I decided if I got this done, then I would get an understanding of how everything works before I go into school for it.”

For some, the class provides a broad scope of experience that can be applied to any specialized position they pursue in the future. The class is viewed as a way for students to explore and fine-tune their interests.

“I want to obtain as much knowledge as I can to build the foundation I need for a solid job once I’m finished with high school,” junior Jaydon Delgado said. “I’m thinking about either being a military aircraft mechanic or doing an apprenticeship right after high school.”

Even if a student’s plans for the future are blurry, the program ensures a high-level education that can be transferred to all mechanical fields.

“If someone has an interest in mechanics or anything like that, this is a good class because aviation mechanics is the most sophisticated type of mechanics,” Elliott said. “If you’re capable of working with aviation mechanics, all other mechanical fields are easy to navigate.”

Most important aspects of the program surround the basics of how airplanes function along with a general understanding of how aviation maintenance works. SAU aviation mechanics adjunct instructor, Adrian Davis, is dedicated to providing a relaxed environment and nontraditional teaching methods while preparing students to apply their mechanical skills in the future.

“You gain experience in hydraulics, aircraft engines and sheet metal work when taking these courses,” Davis said. “There are several courses to advance in. You get a good understanding of how airplanes work and the history of them.”

More and more people are leaving the field of aviation mechanics. Efforts to preserve this skilled job are crucial as the importance of the job is increasing while the worker supply is decreasing.

“Everybody is told, ‘Go to college, get a good degree and get a good job,’ but aviation maintenance is a skill trade that we are losing,” Davis said. “All the skilled maintenance people are retiring or going to find other careers. Aviation is becoming a large part of society in the business world. They’re used as a means of delivery, used for drones and different companies seek different forms of transportations.”

The skills learned in this class, though they seem specific, are versatile advantages that cater to all interests. Students that step out of their comfort zones and into this class leave with abilities that can’t be learned elsewhere.

“The best lessons in this course are problem-solving. If you’re able to learn from this class, you’d be able to apply those lessons to your own life,” Davis said. “Come by and check out the hangar at SAU Tech next to the airport if you’re interested in the program. You can speak to an instructor and give something new a try.”