Sanders said he hoped an Aviation Maintenance Program could be in place in a year or so. He said the program may have to begin as a continuing education course. However, he hopes that students will one day be able to obtain an associate degree in aviation science from Bevill State Community College.
“There is nothing like this in the northern part of our state,” Sanders said.
Holly Trawick, assistant director of public relations for Bevill State Community College, said the school is exploring the idea of an aviation program.
“That possibility is out there, and we are exploring it,” she said.
Trawick said many specifics about the program would have to be worked out before the college could move forward.
Sanders said, if approved, the program would offer flying only, maintenance only and combined courses. He said he has already had a local person donate a plane that could be used to teach maintenance. Sanders said several other area residents have offered to participate in a scholarship program, too. He and a handful of other pilots have offered to teach the courses on a volunteer basis.
“If we could get this going, I think it would be a great thing for young people here who may be interested in a career in aviation,” Sanders said. “We are going to see spinoffs from Airbus that could come to this area, and FedEx is fairly close in Memphis, and they are always in need of maintenance people. Those are great paying jobs that people from Walker County could compete for if they had the training.”
During Monday’s commission meeting, Sanders asked if the county would consider leasing its old hanger as a host site for the program.
“It needs a little work, but we would take care of all of that,” Sanders said. “I think this idea is a ‘win-win’ situation for everyone involved.”
Commission Chairman Bruce Hamrick said he felt the county could work out an agreement.
“This sounds like a good idea, and I’m sure it is something we would consider,” Hamrick said. “Once you have everything in place, we can get our attorney’s approval and take care of it.”
During Monday’s meeting, the commission also approved a hanger lease at the airport for Jasper Aviation.