Flying high

Walker County Center of Technology to offer aviation courses

By LEA RIZZO, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 12/26/17

The Walker County Center of Technology is premiering a first-of-its-kind curriculum in the state of Alabama when school resumes in January — aviation courses.

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Flying high

Walker County Center of Technology to offer aviation courses

Posted

The Walker County Center of Technology is premiering a first-of-its-kind curriculum in the state of Alabama when school resumes in January — aviation courses.

“The state’s got a curriculum but we’re going to do our own curriculum and get it approved locally by Jasper City and Walker County school systems,” explained Chris McCullar, director of the Walker County Career Tech Programs, at a recent meeting about the new Aviation Technology program.

He added that around 15 students will be accepted into the inaugural class. The Aviation Technology program is part of the Transportation, Distribution and Logistics cluster.

The curriculum’s first class, which starts Jan. 9, is called Aircraft Theory of Flight and Operation. According to information provided by WCCT about the program, the Aviation Technology program is desgined to help “students learn various skills including avionics, sheet metal, engine theory and much more. ... The student would receive a complete program of hands-on aviation maintenance training and academic coursework, providing students with many post-high school options upon graduation.” Graduates would be able to work throughout the aviation industry in roles such as aviation maintenance technicians, air traffic controllers, pilots, Federation Aviation Administration inspectors and many others.

“This idea’s been percolating for a long time and there’s been a lot of work that’s gone into getting a curriculum that is meaningful,” said Paul Kennedy, president of the Walker Area Community Foundation, during a recent meeting with stakeholders in the project.

Those who have worked to put the program into place — including local pilot and Sanders Aviation president Joey Sanders and his daughter and fellow pilot, Jessica S. Walker — are excited and hope it will encourage children to pursue their dreams.

“In an aviation career, you need somebody who’s passionate like Joey about what they’re doing,” said James Phillips publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle. “What Sanders is providing is that spark for kids who are in the school system and have been playing with planes since they were 5 years old and they want to fly an airplane but probably have no idea how to do it.”

McCullar echoed Phillips’ thoughts, saying, “I think that’s our job — to provide the most opportunity that we can for these kids.

“My goal since I’ve been at the Center of Technology is to get the right student in the right class,” he said, adding that they’re hoping to continue to reduce the stigma of taking classes through the Center of Technology.

In addition to the courses, Walker said their offering additional incentives to encourage students to do their best. These include:

•a field trip to the Tuscaloosa Air Show for the class to meet the Blue Angels.

•the student with the top GPA in the class will get an aerobatic ride in Big Red, a Reno Racing Plane.

•the student who scores the highest on the written exam will receive a scholarship to start flight training.

McCullar said students can sign up for the first class as late as the end of the first week of the new semester.