Indian Hills Insight September 2019

by Kevin Pink

Information Director, Indian Hills Community College

Indian Hills Community College is one of only a handful of colleges in Iowa with formal aviation-related education programs.  Indian Hills offers Aviation Pilot Training, Aviation Maintenance and Avionics, all at the IHCC North Campus, located at the Ottumwa airport.  There are only two schools in the state that have pilot-training programs.

Aviation programs at Indian Hills had a robust beginning, in the 1970s.  Aviation mechanic students numbered over 30 in one class, and former president Dr. Lyle Hellyer was part of the Aero Club, taking flight-training classes along with traditional-age students as they worked to earn a pilot’s license in a Cessna 150.

The current Pilot Training Program has students complete a variety of classes ranging from fairly specific topics such as Aviation Meteorology and Aerodynamics to broader content required for pilot certification like Private Basic Ground.  Actual hands-on training in the aircraft is integrated into the curriculum as soon as possible.

Colt Brown, one of the flight and ground instructors, says they use a full-motion flight simulator, which he explains is a great tool to have.  “We are allowed to log a portion of the time required for pilot certification in the simulator,” Brown says.  “This can help save money because the hourly rate of the simulator is much less than it would be if the student is actually flying an aircraft.  The simulator is also great because it allows us to present the student with situations that would be impractical or unsafe in an actual airplane.  For example, we can simulate an engine failure and allow the student an opportunity to troubleshoot the problem all the way down to an off-airport landing.”

Brown says the most common position for a new graduate is flight instructor, with a number of the grads from the IHCC program hired by the college.  Commercial pilot positions for aerial survey companies or charter operations are other options depending on the graduate’s flight hours.  A number of areas for potential employment are there, Brown points out, with the job market for pilots continuing to be very strong.

As for IHCC’s Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT), the curriculum includes classes like Aircraft Electrical Systems, Turbine Engines and Aircraft Hydraulics.  Like Pilot Training, it takes 21 months (seven terms) to complete.

The hangar at the North Campus houses a number of aircraft and engines that AMT students train on.  There is also a new airplane this fall used for pilot training.

Dan Brauhn, Professor of Aviation Maintenance and Avionics, says once his students get their certificate they’ll be able to work on any aircraft, “from a hot air balloon to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and everything in between.”

Brauhn describes Avionics as “aviation electronics,” another option for students.  “This is a subject included in the Airframe portion of the AMT program but it’s really a stand-alone career field,” Brauhn says.  “We offer a three-term add-on program in Avionics that allows students to receive their FCC certificate and become a technician working on or with aircraft electronics systems like satellite communication, radar and in-flight connectivity.”

Just as there are plentiful jobs for graduates of the pilot training program, Brauhn says it’s the same for AMT and Avionics grads.  “For every certified graduate leaving our program,” he says, “there are approximately 20 jobs available for them anywhere in the U.S.”

To find out more about the aviation programs and the FAA-approved aviation facility at Indian Hills contact the college’s admissions office.

(This is a monthly column, provided by Indian Hills Community College)