(WACO) – As aircrafts reach new heights, Texas State Technical College embraces its rich aviation history and looks to the future during National Aviation Day.
In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed August 19 to be National Aviation Day.
TSTC in Waco started its aviation program almost 50 years ago with two programs: Aviation Maintenance and Aircraft Pilot Training.
Today, TSTC offers nine associate and certifications in aviation related fields, including Air Traffic Control, Avionics Technology and Helicopter Pilot Training.
“We have always been driven by industry needs and our institution has kept pace with the evolution of the industry to ensure our name stands for quality and solidness,” said Carson Pearce, TSTC Aerospace Division director.
While there have been many changes in commercial aviation such as the implementation of GPS and electronic gauges, one of the most notable is the transition from sheet metal to carbon fiber structure.
“Carbon fiber is changing the way structural work is done and the skill set required to work on it,” said Robert Capps, lead instructor in the Aviation Maintenance program. “That, and the fact we are moving rapidly toward electronic based airplanes means everything is heavily computerized which changes how maintenance is done and how pilots operate airplanes.”
The transition to computer-based aircrafts creates a need for pilots to be trained in both manual and electronic operated aircrafts.Coupled with the Federal Aviation Administration’s increase in required flight hours for commercial pilots from 250 to 1,500 hours, a massive demand for pilots has emerged.
“The need for pilots is absolutely insane,” Pearce said. “We marry both worlds when training our pilots so they can look out the window and fly with a stick and the steam gauges or with the electronic gauges and touch screens.”
Looking to the future, young pilots like Ryan Gauntt are leading the charge in a new generation of aviation fanatics ready to embrace the challenges ahead.
“I caught the ‘airplane bug’ when I was about four years old when my grandpa, a helicopter pilot, retired,” said Gauntt, a TSTC flight instructor. “He bought a little plane and took my brother and me up and I was hooked. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
For more information about Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.