Students learn fire and water safety

Fighting fires and manning life rafts at Liberty’s Flight Attendant Program

Most classes at Liberty University do not include extinguishing fires, jumping into pools to practice water rescues or flying cross-country for a weekend for on-the-job experience, but that is just another day in the School of Aeronautics Flight Attendant Program.

Hands-on — Students in the School of Aeronautics Flight Attendant Program get to work with mock planes, commercial airliner interiors, life rafts and pools. Photo provided

The program will be two years old this January, and it is still relatively small, according to School of Aeronautics Associate Dean Ernie Rogers. Students can enroll in the program as a one-credit elective, a minor or an associate’s degree. Taking the elective alone earns students a certificate of training.

Rogers said students love the hands-on nature of the class.

“I guarantee you that if students take the AVIA 103 Flight Attendant Orientation elective, it will be one of the best classes they take in college,” Rogers said.

A room in the School of Aeronautics’ Airport Campus is set up like the inside of a commercial airliner so students can train on everything from the galley to oxygen masks. A ten-foot inflatable airline exit slide is also set up for students to practice evacuation procedures. Students also train with life rafts and water safety and survival in the pool at the LaHaye Student Union.

“The fire department lets us put out fires,” Rogers added. “They’ll set fires out there, and we’ll take CO2 bottles and learn about fire safety.”

Current students in the program said they love the in-depth nature of the classes.

“We don’t just learn how to use a fire extinguisher and the steps to go through in case of an emergency, we actually put out a fire with it,” senior Sarah Sinnema said. “We didn’t just watch a video about emergency water landings, we got in the pool and had a life raft and recreated an emergency situation.”

“At the airport they have a mock plane with actual seats, a galley and a blow up slide that comes out over the wing,” senior Stephanie Rivera said. “We got to prepare first class meals, jump down a ten-foot slide, get into the water, flip over a life raft and practice rescuing passengers. We also got to put out fires, board actual airplanes and talk to real flight attendants, explore the control tower and even prepare for interviews with mock trials from our instructors.”

The program focuses on safety, security and instilling a sense of responsibility in students, like all School of Aeronautics courses.

“We are responsible for not only passenger comfort but making sure they are safe, and if anything should go wrong, their lives are in our hands,” junior Jessica Incorminias said. “This is something that Liberty’s program stresses. We get so much hands on training with actual flight attendants and learn how to handle anything from extreme to everyday situations.”

Students who choose the minor or associate’s route are required to take some of the same courses in weather, ground school and aerodynamics that pilots have to take as well as CPR certification, hospitality and food safety.

“This program gives us a huge advantage in the field because it is so rare and it allows us to make great connections with the pilots as well,” Incorminias said.

The practical, hands-on training is provided by the Flight Attendant Training Group from Denver, Colo. who offer training and advice from years in the industry.

“I also loved being able to talk to real flight attendants and hear how much they love their jobs and how useful the information that I am learning at Liberty will be to me one day,” Sinnema said. “Hearing from people that have been in this career field for 20-plus years makes it much more realistic.”

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