UFV’s aerospace program treated a motley crew of students (young and old) and community members to a look under the hood during its open house and special presentation night on January 19. The evening started off in a classroom, where Wally Gallinger – Person Responsible for Training (PRT) and Instructor – showed prospective students the different materials they would be working with. Participants would be working towards their Aircraft Structures Technician certificate, a program that accepts 36 students a year and is broken into two distinct parts. As Gallinger explained, “The first three weeks are mostly theory and then we move into the hands-on work and usually spend coffee and lunch in the classroom.”
After attendees had received a dose of the classroom experience, Rolf Arnold, the Director of Trades and Technology, gave group tours of the Aerospace Centre. Throughout the tours, guests were able to see the many different segments of the program’s work area. Standing in the woodworking area, Arnold praised the program, commenting that “students learn how to work with wood, metal, and carbon fibre, [and] learning how to work with many different materials is a great tool.”
Aside from learning the expected program modules, students also have the opportunity to work on a 1940s-era Lockheed Lodestar that was originally brought to UFV in 2007. The aircraft was used to fly not only troops and cargo but two of Canada’s former Prime Ministers – Lester Pearson and Louis St. Laurent – as well as many other famous Canadians. “There are very few Lockheed Lodestars left in the world, [so] this plane provides a great opportunity for our students, as it has a historical significance and it’s also a great long-term project,” Arnold noted.
In addition, guests were shown a training bomber aircraft (the Piaggio), and another instructor led a hands-on experience with rivets, the same construction process used for planes during the war.
Arnold explained that working on the Lockheed Lodestar grants students recognition on a plaque that will be mounted next to the aircraft once it is finished being restored. “This gives them an opportunity to be a part of restoring an important historical airplane, very rewarding” he said. UFV has paired up with the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley, where, after its makeover, the Lockheed Lodestar will be an exhibit.
Admission to the program happens twice a year: in September and January. Students are expected to have completed grade 12 or its equivalent, and must write a Math and English comprehension entrance exam. The program itself is 42 consecutive weeks long. After students are done the program, they will be prepared to repair and overhaul a fixed-wing aircraft, perform rotary wing (helicopter) repairs and overhauls, manufacture aircraft parts, and assemble and modify aircraft structures.
The next group of students will be admitted in September 2011; to find out more information about the program, visit www.ufv.ca/aerospace. Not only could this program earn you a certificate as an Aircraft Structures Technician, but you may also be a part of rebuilding some of Canada’s history.