ANC first Aviation Maintenance class graduates
Arkansas Northeastern College held a special ceremony Friday night, May 20, 2011, to pin "Wings" on the first graduating Aviation Maintenance Program class. More than 100 people filled the Adams/Vines Gallery on the Arkansas Norhteastern College Campus in Blytheville as 16 graduates were recognized for completion of the 18 month program.
Dr. James Shemwell has overseen this program since it's inception nearly 3 years ago. "This is a very rigorous program. When you get done you've completed 1940 clock hours," said Dr. Shemwell who praised not only the graduates but the instructing staff who worked diligently to ensure that the program met the required elements and vigor expected for FAA certification.
According to Dr. Shemwell, the time and effort it took to bring this program to fruition was daunting. From hauling 18 semi-loads of training equipment and aids to Blytheville from California to the year-long process of gaining FAA approval, the addition of the ANC Aviation Maintenance Program was a difficult but worthwhile adventure.
Graduate Oscar Woods says that he is ready to put his training to work. "Anyone who is interested in aviation I would strongly advise you to go to school and learn this trade. I wish I had done this 20 years ago," said Woods.
From classroom to the shop the 16 graduates have worked together to learn this very specialized career. Dr. Robert Myers, President of ANC, spoke of their commitment, "They've been together for 40 hours a week and sometimes more than that for the past 18 months."
Upon completion of all FAA mandated testing for the A&P license all 16 have been offered jobs at Aviation Repair Technologies located at the Aeroplex in Blytheville. Meghan Stallings is the recruiter for the company. "There aren't many places that will hire mechanics coming straight out of school and we're hoping they will come to us and stay with us," she said. ART has been a partner with Arkansas Northeastern College in this venture since the beginning.
Graduate Rodney Fulkerson is hoping to get a job working near his stepson who is a test pilot and engineer at Andrews Air Force Base. "It's been a pretty good program. It's tough, I've had some difficult times but all in all it's been well worth it."
Friday night all the hours of hard work came together as each graduate received his wings. Most of the graduates face the FAA Powerplant testing now, but they have completed all the school requirements and have jobs waiting for them.
"We know that your future has changed forever. Not just your future but the future of all the lives that touched you," said Dr. Myers.