Inside California Education: Community Colleges – Where Aviation Careers Take Flight


♪♪ Alexis: Sacramento International
Airport. 11 o clock.
E120 -5000. Do you have in sight? Steve: Air traffic controllers
may spend their careers with their eyes on the sky…
but they start their training on the ground…
in programs like this one at Sacramento City
College. Sean: You don’t know that
UPS is going to see Coast Guard. Tom: We’re one of the few
programs in the state. In fact, Sacramento City College
is the only aviation program in the northern part of the state. Alexis: So I’ve been flying
literally my whole entire life. I remember being a unaccompanied
minor, and being perfectly fine go on planes by myself. Steve: Alexis Ford-Beckham
already has a bachelor’s degree in history, but enrolled in the
community college’s air traffic control program to learn a
different skill set. Alexis: It’s something that you
don’t learn when you’re younger. So it’s all new information and
it’s something that I just drive myself to wanting to know more
know more about it because not a lot of people do know. Alexis: Runway 16 right
or 10 right. Sean: The goal of this program
is for the students to come out of here and become controllers. Steve: Instructor Sean Tener
teaches his students everything they need to know in order to be
accepted to – and pass — the FAA Academy. Once they pass the FAA’s
rigorous standards, he says they’re on a solid career path. Sean: It’s a great job. I did it for 27 years and
retired at age 46. I’ve been asked over the years,
‘what makes a person a good candidate to be a controller?’
And my answer is always been, ‘someone who can make very
quick common-sense decisions and multitask.’ Steve: Sacramento
City College is one of the oldest community colleges
in the state… with a long history tied to
aviation and aeronautics. Dr. King: Back in the 30s,
preparing in the run-up to World War II, there were very specific
needs in the community and the aeronautics program was created
to respond as the nation was preparing for war. So the program evolved to meet
the needs then. And has continued to evolve,
right to the current day. Steve: Those current day
programs include air traffic control, aircraft maintenance,
flight technology and aircraft dispatch. Tom: The aircraft dispatcher
program. The best job in aviation that no
one knows about. Tom: And then, look at the
Sacramento NOTAM Steve: Students in Tom Burg’s
aircraft dispatch class can go on to earn a one-year
certificate, or two year degree, that will prepare them to
pass an FAA exam. Tom: An aircraft dispatcher is
responsible for all of the pre-flight planning.
So, that person has a lot of responsibility
before the flight. They’re also the airline
representative that is in constant contact with the
flight. Eyoel: Pilots taxing on taxi way Eyoel: I’ve always been
interested in aviation. I used to I used to wait for my
mom at the airport, and it kind of seemed like it has life
there, you know. Everybody had a purpose
everybody was going somewhere. Steve: Eyoel Abraha is a native
of Ethiopia, who initially wanted to be a pilot. But flying lessons were too
expensive, so he instead turned to dispatch. Eyoel: Dispatcher is really
interesting. It just you’re always doing
something, you’re not like it’s not like a boring office job,
you know. You’re always doing something. Robbie: So the terminal approach
radar – out of service. Steve: No matter how challenging
the course can be at times. Students can rest assured
— they’re in good hands. Tom: At the end of this course,
the FAA will send an examiner here to give their practical
exams. In eight years, we’ve only had
two students that didn’t pass on the first try. So it’s a pretty good program. Tom: What’s the problem with
Oakland? Dr. King: As the industry
continues to evolve, the close relationship that our faculty
have with people in the industry, we will be prepared to
help train students for the needs of the industry moving
forward. ♪♪

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