(WACO) – An eight-member delegation from the Czech Republic toured the Col. James T. Connally Aerospace Center at Texas State Technical College in Waco on Thursday, Sept. 3.
The group received a glimpse of the five academic programs offered at the center: Air Traffic Controller, Aircraft Airframe Technician, Aircraft Dispatch Technology, Aircraft Pilot Training Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology.
Carson Pearce, Aerospace Division director, showed the group the air traffic control lab which has a simulator students can use to work in conditions such as fog, rain and darkness to gain hands-on experience directing incoming and outgoing flights.
“Our students are taught by the finest instructors in America who have more than 30 years of experience with the Federal Aviation Administration in air traffic control,” Pearce said.
The Czech visitors watched a student use a Redbird flight simulator to “land” in Prague.
Pearce said aviation maintenance students undertake the equivalent of four years of work in two years and called their work some of the most intense on campus. He said students keep track of 1,900 hours of training for the Federal Aviation Administration’s rating as mechanics.
“Most of our graduates have jobs waiting for them before they graduate,” Pearce said.
Pearce also showed the group the college’s collection of original aviation oil artwork located in the first floor boardroom. The artwork symbolizes something no other higher education institution has in the United States: The legacy and heritage of a military airfield. The land the college is on was once used for flight training and as James T. Connally Air Force Base which was decommissioned in the late 1960s.
One of the TSTC staff members leading the delegation was Stevie Vanek, a housing maintenance foreman and mayor-pro tem for the city of West.
“Any time you can exchange cultural visits, it’s a great thing,” he said.
Pearce gave the Czech visitors specially minted coins depicting the aerospace center.
Ivana Majickova, mayor of Kunovice, Czech Republic, said she felt inspired by the opportunities she saw students have.
“This school is a very beautiful school,” said Majickova. “In my city, we also have a school for aviation as well. In our town we don’t have all the programs in one place.”
Also part of the delegation was Jan Mazuch, former cultural attache representing the Czech Republic in Washington, D.C. along with his wife, Magda; their sons Honza and Stephen and Alexandra Janku, all of Brno. Majickova’s husband, Petr, and Vicar General Josef Nuzik of Olomouc also made the trip.
The tour was part of the group’s visit to Texas highlighted by the signing this weekend of an educational, economic and cultural sister city agreement with the city of West which has a large Czech-American population.
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