It would be hard to imagine life without these people. We trust them more than we realize we do and they live what seems to be a rewarding life.
They’re the men and women of the City College aeronautics program. It’s one of the few programs in the state of California and the only one in Northern California, aside from a for-profit school in the Bay Area that costs over $30,000 a year.
The aeronautics program goes beyond working on airplanes, but rather involves all facets of mechanical work.
“There’s a lot of variety in the work [a student does] from day to day, so [they] don’t do the same thing over and over,” aeronautics professor Kit Sodergren said.
The aeronautics program has four different areas: air traffic controller; aircraft dispatch; airframe and power plant maintenance; and flight technology.
While there are many different opportunities for students in the aeronautics program, many students prefer sticking to airplanes.
“For many of these men and women, the fact that they work on something that flies is a big deal,” Johnson explained. “You can make as much money going to the Ford dealer and working on Fords, but most of these people would think that wouldn’t be any fun.”
Just as with many programs at City College the aeronautics program is competitive and can be hard to get into. It is also diverse in students with regard to experience in the field.
The students have different aspirations for what they would like to do after completion of the program. While many of them want to stick to airplanes or something similar, the types of airplanes they would like to work on varies too.
“I love the small airplanes because they’re older. They are unique a lot of times,” said aviation mechanic major Karl Frantzreh , 40. “You might only see that one airplane in your life.”
The program requires a lot of commitment, as well. Classes are Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 10 p.m. That class is broken up into lecture and lab time. The classes are also at McClellan Air Force Base, which is in North Highlands.
“The classes are six hours of instruction five days a week every single semester, so it’s a huge amount of time,” Frantzreh said. “Four hours of the six hours is lab, which is hands on, getting greasy, getting your hands into that engine and seeing how the mechanics of that engine work and after that we have two hours of lecture.”
Needless to say, it’s a major time commitment. The job availability, however, is abundant which for students in the program, is a very comforting fact. This could be a particularly ideal field for people who thrive on hands-on work.
Frantzreh, who started as a mechanic in high school, went into the Army as a mechanic and transferred to the Air Force. He is currently an aircraft mechanic for the C-17 Globemaster for the Air Force.
Frantzreh says he is taking the City College class to get his airframe and powerplant certification so he can work publicly, ideally in a small airport.
“I love it,” said Frantzreh. “I’ve been doing this all my life in one way or another. I love doing maintenance, but it’s not for everybody. If you’re interested absolutely, let’s get involved and let’s do this.”