On-campus aircraft gives Houston County Career Academy an edge

On-campus aircraft gives Houston County Career Academy an edge
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

HOUSTON CO., AL (WSFA) - Houston County Career Academy is the first dual enrollment program in Alabama to have an aircraft on campus for instructional use. It was donated to the school through a partnership with Alabama Aviation College (ACC).

The Cessna 150 was delivered to the school Tuesday morning. Students in the A&P Course worked to assemble parts of the plane.

"What we are doing today is getting a basic idea of the structural design of an aircraft by putting the wings on," said 11th-grade student Robert Matthew Danford.

The 14 students enrolled in the course will work to repair the plane to running condition as part of their coursework, turning textbook lessons into hands-on instruction.

"There are times you're describing something on the board. Even though you describe it the best way you know how, some people have to touch," said course instructor James Stockton.

And students in the course agree hands-on is a better method.

"It helps me understand it better. I am more of a hands-on learner. I'm okay at learning in books, but I'd rather learn hands-on," said Shelby Prather.

The course caters to a variety of students' career goals. Danford, for example, says the course gives him a clear job path and access to resources to help him prepare for a career in Astronautical Engineering.

"For the Astronautical Engineering they look at background experience, but this has the hands-on experience I need," he explained.

And preparing students to fill the workforce is one of the main reasons Principal Glenn Maloy pushed for Houston County Career Academy to get the plane.

"Being the first dual enrollment program in the state to have an aircraft is important to us," Maloy said, "but it's more important to our students to get them some of the equipment they need to be better prepared for a job once they leave us."

And when students leave the career academy to finish their dual enrollment degree at ACC, they'll have an edge over other students and will be more prepared to fill upcoming gaps in the workforce.

"We're starting to see with one generation coming out of aviation and one coming in there is about to be a big need in the industry and having students in this program and getting them ready is icing on the cake," said Alabama Aviation College recruiter Jenna Judah. "They'll be able to find a job really quickly."

ACC hopes to provide students with an engine to work with next.

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