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Aircraft mechanic program honors its first graduates

December 17, 2010 : Allison Cundiff/Liberty University News Service

Graduates participated in the tradition of "torque the bolt" after they received their certificates.

The Liberty University School of Aeronautics graduated its inaugural class of the Aviation Maintenance Technician School (AMTS) Friday at its temporary facility at The Plaza shopping center in mid-town Lynchburg.

Eleven students received FAA certification for completing the 12-month aircraft mechanic training program, which began in January.

AMTS Chairman Bob Howell opened the ceremony in prayer, followed by Dave Young, Dean of the School of Aeronautics, who welcomed the graduates and their families and friends.

“The responsibility of a maintainer is tremendous,” Young said. “The profession you guys are entering, regardless of whether you do it in commercial aviation, on the mission field or corporate aviation, there are people who are going to put their lives in your hands.”

Duane Hunter, manager of the Flight Standards District Office in Richmond, Va., gave the Commencement address. Hunter has more than 20 years’ experience with aviation maintenance and the FAA.

Hunter spoke about the opportunities available in all fields of aviation. He discussed the direct and indirect impacts of aviation on the nation’s economy, in commercial aviation as well as missionary and military aviation.

“This is probably the class that had the most care and instruction, because each class is going to get bigger,” he said after the ceremony. “I think it’s an outstanding program. You’ve had a flight program for years, and now finally you have a maintenance program to go with it.”

When graduates received their certificates, they joined in the symbolic tradition of “torque the bolt.” Each student torqued one final bolt and applied the necessary lacquer, signifying the completion of the training process. The bolts will be displayed on a plaque alongside each graduate’s name.

Young praised the program’s first class for setting the standard for future graduates. He said their success contributed to the program’s growth; 24 students are currently enrolled in the Class of 2011.

“We selected students who we believed would be success-oriented, we had great equipment, but I think the dedication of the instructors and the quality of the instructors we have was key to getting this class through and doing it in 12 months,” Young said.