Westfield Tech seeks program coordinator for aviation program

WESTFIELD – The new Aviation Maintenance Technology “Flying Tigers” program at Westfield Technical Academy is advertising for a part-time coordinator to help get the program off the ground.
“There is a lot of work, and I have students in front of me,” said Galen Wilson, instructor of “The Flying Tigers.”
The program is setting up shops, planning for the hangar which will house its planes, testing electrical systems and aircraft hydraulic systems, getting all the manuals from the publications library, and meeting expectations of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in its curriculum, syllabus and worksheets.
“As we build the curriculum and syllabus, the FAA has to approve it,” Wilson said.
The goal of the program is to become an accredited FAA Part 147 Aviation Maintenance Technology school. Wilson thinks there are only two other high schools that are Part 147 – one in the Bronx, and one in Michigan.
“We need someone that understands aviation; that knows airplanes and flies airplanes.” Wilson, who served in the Air Force, thinks a retired military person might be ideal, but one who is full of energy.
“I’m retired Air Force, but my energy level is still high, so I can hang out with these kids,” he said. “Fourteen-year-olds are going 100 mph.”
Right now the freshmen at Westfield Technical Academy are in exploratory weeks, where they spend one week in each of their top four to six shops. Then, starting the first of the year, they will be assigned to a program to follow throughout high school.
“The kids are trying real hard to get the new slot.,” Wilson said.
Space is limited, and only 14-16 students will be assigned to Aviation Maintenance Technology.
“It’s great. I wish I had room for 400 students,” he said. “In time, we hope to grow the program.
When asked how students are chosen, Wilson said they are given a series of quizzes, projects and participation.
“If you put 100 percent into it, and the instructor sees that, that’s important,” he said. “Of course, good grades are important, too.”
Right now, the program has six aircraft, and is working on obtaining a seventh. They include a Beechcraft Baron 55, an N17c Vintage-style Bi-wing, which is fabric-coated, a Q200 experimental aircraft, all composite, a Scorpion Too helicopter, a Lear Jet 23 (which is coming) and an RV-4 experimental aircraft that the students will be putting together. They are also hoping to get a single engine plane, such as a Cessna or Piper.
Wilson said he is not so concerned about flying the RV-4.
“One of these aircraft will have to be the sacrificial lamb,” he said. “This will probably be it.”
“I am a restorer,” he said. “Everything I see, I feel that we can fix it.”
The city of Westfield has authorized the use of Hangar 2 at Barnes for the program, which is being refurbished with classrooms, a jet shop, a battery shop and a kitchen area.
As for the program coordinator position, Wilson said, “We’re just looking for the right fit. Someone who interacts well with kids, will help the program move along, and keep us going down the right path.”

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