By JOAN LUEBBERS
The SUN ‘n FUN campus on Lakeland Linder International Airport (KLAL) in Florida hides a school that offers classes in Airframe Mechanics and Aviation Powerplant Mechanics leading to FAA certificates — and potentially lucrative careers in the aviation industry.
The school isn’t exactly invisible, but I’ve walked past it for years while walking around the SUN ‘n FUN campus and never noticed it. At this year’s fly-in, held April 5-10, 2022, I walked in just as the instructors were getting started with the afternoon classes.
What I discovered was a Traviss Technical College program designed to prepare students for employment as Aviation Maintenance Technicians.
The two-year program is affordable, offers extensive equipment for hands-on instruction, and is FAA Part 147 approved, according to college officials.
Beginning May 1, Delta Airlines will increase its wages by 4% for all positions, except pilots. Traviss students who have earned both the Airframe and Power Plant certificates could earn $24.38 an hour for Aircraft Maintenance Technician jobs plus an $8 per hour premium for the two licenses, officials noted.
Instructors Cynthia Roosevelt, Lamarr Story, and Doug Bartolett told me airlines are searching for workers in all fields. Seven of their students would be going for interviews next week at Delta. (Both Story and Bartolett are retirees from Delta.) And Cynthia Roosevelt is working with American and United Airlines for job opportunities for graduates.
This school makes heavy use of simulators representing powerplant, hydraulics, and electronic aircraft systems. These sophisticated sims are able to introduce technical problems that students will need to troubleshoot under the watchful eye of their instructors.
They also learn to work on piston engines from various manufacturers, as well as turbine engines.
The two-year cost of the Traviss program is approximately $14,000, which includes tuition, fees, materials, and books. Financial aid is available. As one of the Polk County Public Schools, Traviss follows the same academic calendar with classes beginning in August, time off for holidays, and a two-month summer vacation.
Officials note that while the pilot shortage gets a lot of notice, there is also a huge shortage of mechanics, meaning a person who starts their training now should have no problem finding a good job.