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Airlines Snapping Up Entire Class.

OTTUMWA, Iowa -- Graduating students in the aircraft technician program at Indian Hills Community College have been offered jobs with a major air carrier even before they had diplomas in their hands.

"These students have worked hard and deserve the attention they've received," said

Darrell Downing, director of the Ottumwa college's aviation program. "It's a first for us."

Officials from Atlanta-based Delta Airlines tested the 20 students in Downing's Aviation Maintenance Technology class before Wednesday's graduation.

Delta representatives liked what they saw.

"They tested our students for three hours, and all of them passed," Downing said. "They basically told me they'd be interested in hiring them all."

Downing said Delta is willing to fly any of the graduates to Atlanta to look at the operation and get a feel for the big city.

Although many of the graduates may end up working for Delta, others have found positions with other companies.

Ben Rotz was home-schooled in his hometown of Melrose. He came to IHCC's aviation program as a 16-year-old with a high school diploma.

"I'm pretty sure I'm going to work for a firm in Dallas, Texas," he said.

Rotz is heading into a job that pays more than $30,000 a year.

Pete Frangos, 33, of Ames had a bachelor's degree in business and marketing when he entered the program a year and a half ago.

"I've always had a passion for aviation," Frangos said. He plans to work for Citation Cessna Jet in Milwaukee.

Adam Moore, 19, of Corydon is also staying in the Midwest.

"I got a real good job for Milwaukee Express Airlines in Milwaukee," Moore said.

Downing said he and his staff go beyond classroom training with their philosophy of instilling the importance of an aircraft maintenance worker.

"There is a moral commitment we try to emphasize here at our program ... with the responsibility they have for repairing aircraft," Downing said.

Downing said if the maintenance man does not release the craft as airworthy, it does not fly.

"They can think in terms of a doctor," Downing said. "A lot of lives depend upon their work and decisions."

Students complete the coursework in 18 months with an FAA license to work on anything from a hot air balloon to a large passenger jet.

The college's aviation program, which started in 1967, is one of three in Iowa.

The other two programs are offered at Western Iowa Community College in Council Bluffs and Hawkeye Institute of Technology in Waterloo.
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Title Annotation:airplane maintenance education
Publication:Community College Week
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 2, 2001
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