Careers taking flight; Aeronautics program prepares students for success

Students work on City College’s Boeing 727, donated to the aeronautics program by FedEx. The plane sits outside the Aerospace Museum of California at McClellan Park. Jason Pierce | Photo Editor |

Ellyssa Rodriguez
Managing Editor


An enormous aircraft hangar stands watch, right next to the McClellan Airfield. Inside, the buzz of power tools and clicks of spinning ratchets echo loudly, bouncing off the walls and the hulls of different colored aircrafts. Students chatter as they repair aircraft parts.

We definitely aren’t on the main campus anymore, Toto.

This is the home of the City College aeronautics program, located inside McClellan Park. The park was previously used as an air force base, but since its closure in 2003, it has been transformed into a thriving business park.

At this facility, students get firsthand experience from retired pilots and air traffic controllers. Five programs of study are offered: air traffic control, aircraft dispatcher, combined airframe and powerplant maintenance, flight technology, and railroad operations. Labs with flight and radar simulators are available to students, as well as many small aircrafts to dismantle and reassemble.

Airframe and powerplant maintenance student Ken Scarboro works on an aircraft’s wing as he runs down the list of students who have already found jobs in the industry.

“One of our group members works on helicopters right next door, and a bunch of our students are very interested in going to United, because they’re doing a really big hiring right now,” says Scarboro. “We can work on small planes, helicopters and big airliners.”

The location of the program may also be a benefit to students, as many students find employment right inside McClellan Park.

“Half of the employees at Dyncorp right next door have graduated from our program,” explains Larry Johnson, department chair of the aeronautics program.

Kendra Chao is studying air traffic control and will graduate from the program in December. She’s eager to find a job in the Bay Area, but is willing to take a job anywhere. The aeronautics program stresses the importance of placing students in entry-level positions after graduation, and they’re able to do that because of the facilities.

“If we just had the classroom, I would not understand how to actually control,” says Chao. “I cannot imagine if we didn’t have the labs.”

For program information, visit