Butler Tech students are improving a Middletown airport hangar to help the school’s aviation program

A group of Butler Tech construction technologies students started work this week on renovations at the JETS Hangar at Middletown Regional Airport to prepare the building for future students in the school’s aviation program.

More than a dozen students from the construction technologies class led by instructor Clement Skinner are partnering with Gridstone Construction, the city’s contractor on the renovation project, so that Butler Tech can launch its new aviation exploration program classes at the Middletown airport starting next fall.

The students are applying what they learned in the classroom at Butler Tech’s Fairfield Twp. campus as they perform some interior demolition, framing with metal studs for the walls and installing the ceiling grid, according to Superintendent Jon Graft.

Graft said the project includes renovation of the restrooms as well as constructing a new classroom and lab at the JETS Hangar. He said the Butler Tech aviation program will use about 2,000 square feet of hangar space, and that the cost of renovations will be about $50,000.

The students have learned about design and have been involved in construction meetings about where the school wanted to make changes in the hangar, Graft said.

“They have the drawings and all of them have other aspects to mobilize their efforts and take part in the work,” Graft said.

He said that Gridstone Construction would be doing the electrical and plumbing work on the project.

This fall, incoming juniors will enter the new aviation exploration program that consists of three sections:

  • Obtaining an FAA drone pilots license.
  • Aircraft avionics and electronics.
  • Experiences with aircraft airframes and power systems.

“We hope this builds momentum in student interest in aviation,” Graft said.

He said the priority registration deadline is today to apply for Butler Tech courses and that 1,700 applications have already been submitted for the 800 seats districtwide. He said prospective students will be interviewed and eventually selected for their programs

“There’s a high demand for our programs,” he said.

Graft said Butler Tech already offers courses for adults and secondary students to earn an FAA drone pilot’s license.

He said this area is growing and drone pilots could work in a variety of areas such as farming, surveying, media, delivering medicine in an emergency, monitoring utility lines, roof inspections and other public safety applications. However, an FAA drone pilots license is required.

Last September, Middletown City Council approved a motion to lease part of the JETS Hangar at the airport for the program’s launch in September 2019. Provisions of the lease provide for moving the Butler Tech programming to the new education facility once completed as well as reviewing additional, more appropriate spaces that may become available in the interim.

Last year, Middletown received a state capital improvement grant of $750,000 to build a new education hangar at the airport to support educational programs relating to aviation and aviation support.

This is in addition to a new avionics and electronics component program being developed by Cincinnati State for its Middletown campus.

City officials are looking to develop the new education hangar to prepare people to enter the aviation workforce.

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