BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) --Arkansas Northeastern College held a special ceremony Friday night to put "Wings" on the first graduating Aviation Maintenance Program class.
Class 1 received a standing ovation from family and friends as they wound up their 18 month program at the Adams/Vines recital hall on the ANC Blytheville campus.
Dr. James Shemwell has overseen this program since it's inception nearly 3 years ago.
Shemwell, "This is a very vigorous program. 1940 clock hours and when you get done you've completed 1940 clock hours."
The program took about a year to get FAA approval and get started. 18 semi-loads of equipment and training aids rolled in from California for class one to train on.
Graduate Oscar Woods was ready to get into the "Real" world
Woods, "Anyone that's 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."
From classroom to the shop the 16 have worked together to learn this very specialized career.
Dr. Robert Myers the 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.
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."
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."
14 of the graduates started the program from day one. Friday night it all came together as each man received his set of "Wings"
Most of the graduates face the FAA Powerplant testing now but they have completed all the school requirements. A little more testing then on to a brighter future.
Dr. Myers. "We know that your future has changed forever. Not just your future but the future of all the lives that touched you."