VIENNA, Ohio (WYTV) – The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA) at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport facility in Vienna received a new plane Thursday – a 1969 Lear jet delivered by NASA.
The plane looks like an executive jet, but it’s been used for many things such as studying the sun, the skies, and even the water. It was based in Cleveland but it making its new home now at the school.
“To have an asset like this to actually wrench on and actually pull engines off and put back on and then go ahead and turn them on, that’s great,” said J.D. Demers, NASA research pilot.
The sensors all over the plane have done great work for NASA, exploring solar cells, microgravity, and even checking out the algae bloom in Lake Erie. The plane’s final mission was a secret one for the Department of Defense in California.
“There is a little mystery in it so just kind of wondering what kind of cool stuff did this plane do before coming here to PIA, and now we are using it to train more technicians for the future,” said Paul Keith, PIA student.
The plane is 48 years old and NASA is using more modern aircraft. In fact, the engines do not meet FAA noise level requirements, but they meet the needs of the PIA students.
“Well, it is going to help because it has the turbo fan engines, which we haven’t had here. Most all of our stuff is propellers,” Keith said.
The plane is the first working jet on the Vienna campus. The school has jet engines, but not an entire jet plane until now.
“When they get to work on a plane like this, they are more marketable when they leave here to be able to work in the industry, “ said Joseph Deramo, PIA campus director.
That training takes just 16 months to get a FAA certificate, which basically lets you work on anything that flies. The average starting pay is around $40,000 and within ten years the salary can double.
Deramo said everyone in the most recent graduating class had job offers prior to Graduation Day.
“This is going to add to our legacy of putting quality aircraft mechanics in the field,” Deramo said.