Tonya Papanikolas ReportingSalt Lake Community College has a recent acquisition to its Aviation Maintenance Program. The students and instructors are excited to be able to work on a Beechcraft Starship plane.
It is one of the few Starships that wasn't destroyed in the last month. Beechcraft said the planes were too expensive to maintain, but Salt Lake Community College had other ideas; the school wanted the plane to use as a teaching tool.
This plane is a rarity across the country, one of only 53 Beechcraft Starships ever built.
"This is NC19, it's the 19th airplane made at the Beechcraft factory."
And it now belongs to Salt Lake Community College. The school purchased the plane for its Aviation Maintenance Program.
Bill Cushenberry, Aviation Maintenance Instructor, SLCC: "We are the only community college in the nation that has this airplane. It makes it a special treat to come work on it."
Building and maintaining the plane is all up to the students.
Larry White, Student: "It came to us in a bunch of pieces. There's a bar that goes right in here. We don't have that at all."
While they're still working to insert panels, today the students discovered a hydraulic leak and serviced the landing gear with nitrogen.
No one will be flying this plane. It doesn't have any engines, but it's still a huge benefit to students.
Larry White, Aviation Maintenance Student, SLCC: "It's so different from what we have. For one, it's a little bit larger."
While Salt Lake Community College has eight other planes to work on, the Starship is the most modern. The aircraft is rarely flown today, but the structure is similar to other current planes, giving students useful knowledge.
Bill Cushenberry: "If we can give them experience on stuff that they understand, you can translate from one airplane to another."
Travis Hougland, Aviation Maintenance Student, SLCC: "The hands-on, working on these airplanes, it's great."
When students graduate, some will work for aerospace companies, some may become technicians for amusement parks.
Larry White: "Working for NASA would be kind of cool."
But they all know they have a good background working with state of the art equipment.
Travis Hougland: "I think I'll be pretty much set."
Even though this plane is 14-years old, the technology and hydraulic and electrical systems are still very advanced. Instructors told us working on this plane was like recess for the students.