Freight Committee Tour:
Aviation Trainees in Demand

A unique career center at Toledo Public Schools is graduating students who can walk directly into high-paying transportation jobs in the military or in industry, and who can choose from jobs around the world. In many cases, the three-year TPS Aviation Center graduates students with a high school degree, a two-year college associate’s degree, and two FAA licenses. And it’s all free.

Instructor Brad McDonald led a tour for the TMACOG Freight Advisory Committee in September at the TPS Aviation Center which is in a hangar at Toledo Express Airport. While jet fighters from the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard roared in and out of the airfield, he explained that all aircraft require strict maintenance schedules and that maintenance must be done by a licensed technician. The aviation industry is desperate for new technicians because the existing workforce is retiring at a much higher rate than schools can graduate replacements. “Our center is industry-driven,” he said. McDonald described getting regular phone calls from Delta, Gulfstream, and other aviation companies asking for graduates.

McDonald noted that education and training is completely free for his students while adults who want to enter the field will pay between $50,000 and $80,000 for the same education. His graduates may earn that much in their first years of work after high school. The school is one of the oldest programs in the U.S. It began as a club in the 1920s and became a program at Macomber High School in the 1930s.

Students at the Aviation Center spend half of their school day at the center and half at their home high school. Seniors can qualify to take license exams in both Airframe and Power Plant. About 70 percent of the school’s graduates succeed in earning their certifications. Any Ohio school student can attend the Aviation Center. The current group of 53 includes students from TPS schools including Bowsher and Start High Schools, from as far away as Pike-Delta-York, and some home-schooled students. The center’s instructors said that good math and science skills are essential to success as is attention to detail and integrity.

The training at the Aviation Center qualifies graduates for many types of jobs. McDonald said that many of his students go on to the military, including their neighbors at the 180th Fighter Wing, or to private industry including Disney parks and Cedar Point. “They learn problem-solving skills and have technical know-how,” he said. Understanding power supply, construction, wiring, and fuel systems opens up opportunities.

See more program details: The center holds an expo for the public and for potential students in May. For more information see the link:

Students at the TPS Aviation Center learn wiring, electronics, construction,
fabrication and more in a three-year program.

One classroom project includes putting an engine together starting from individual parts.

Instructor Brad McDonald (center) led the Freight Advisory Committee tour at the Aviation Center.



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