College of Aeronautics Received Three New Aircraft in 2020 Alone
Over the course of the past eight months, three new aircraft have made their way to the College of Aeronautics, each bringing with it a major first for the college. The first supersonic jet in the college’s history arrived in February, the first helicopter in June, and the first twin-engine, turbo-propeller plane in September.
It’s exciting to see so many new aircraft make their way into the program, which will all be used for students to learn how to repair and maintain jets, planes, and helicopters around the world.
Swearingen Merlin III
The most recent addition to the College of Aeronautics, a Swearingen Merlin III, is the first twin-engine turbo-propeller plane to be used in the program. The aircraft was designed by Ed Swearingen in the 1960s and manufactured for over 30 years right here in San Antonio, Texas. Now that the San Antonio native has returned home, it will be used to offer Hallmark students training in avionics and flight control for the first time.
“This Merlin III will give our students training on a turboprop aircraft, which we didn’t have before,” shared Kurt Leslie, Dean of the College of Aeronautics. “Students will get more variety in their training before they graduate and it’s going to give them more experience they can use when they join the industry.”
The original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, of the Merlin III is M7 Aerospace, located across the runway from Hallmark’s College of Aeronautics at the San Antonio International Airport. M7 Aerospace services a variety of aircraft like the Merlin III, but only hires technicians with previous experience to service the Merlin.
“The biggest benefit is that our students will get experience on a Merlin aircraft. There are companies, even here at the San Antonio airport, that service this plane and they only hire employees that have experience on Merlin aircraft. So, our students are going to get specialized training on this plane which will help them get jobs.”
Popular for its use as a rotorcraft trainer and as a livestock management tool on large ranches, the Robinson R22 will be the first helicopter to be used by the College of Aeronautics after making its way into hangar three this past June.
“When students graduate, they work on a lot of different aircraft, which often includes helicopters,” shared Kurt Leslie. “We’ve never had a helicopter to use as a training aid in the program, so this fills a hole in our curriculum and gives students exposure to this part of the industry.”
The popularity of the Robinson R22 led to its continued production since 1979, with over 4,600 units of the single engine helicopter produced over the years. Now having acquired its first helicopter, the College of Aeronautics will educate students on the mechanical differences between the R22 and planes like the Merlin III.
“Let’s say we do a pitot static check on our Merlin; we can also do the same check on the R22 and look at it and go ‘these are the difference between the two.’ We’re going to be able to show students the differences in function and design between a helicopter and an airplane.”
Northrop T-38 Talon
Known as the world’s first ever supersonic trainer, the Northrop T-38 Talon has been used by air forces around the world for almost 60 years now. The T-38 boasts a long history as a pilot trainer by governments, militaries, and agencies like NASA, who utilized the T-38’s speed and performance to train astronauts to think quickly on their feet before venturing into space.
The T-38 is a capable jet with a long and impressive history, which made the addition of a T-38 Talon at the College of Aeronautics an exciting development.
“The USAF needs to hire more Technicians to keep up with the maintenance for their T-38s in San Antonio, so we worked with the Pentagon to get this jet here,” shared Kurt Leslie. “Students will get familiar working with the T-38 so if they join the Air Force Civilian Service after graduating, they’ll get a head-start in their new careers the moment they get hired.”
Arriving at the College of Aeronautics in February, the T-38 is the outcome of a recent partnership between Hallmark University and Randolph Air Force Base. Randolph AFB employs a fleet of the supersonic jet to train pilots for the United States Air Force, leading to a buildup of T-38s in San Antonio.
“The T-38s in San Antonio are used on an almost constant basis to train new pilots, so they need to have experienced technicians to keep up with the demand. Since we’ve got a T-38 here, students get some early experience working with a very cool aircraft.”
Investing in Students
There are many reasons why these aircraft have recently made their way to the College of Aeronautics, but the main reason is because of Hallmark graduates. Private donors, organizations, and government agencies see the expertise and commitment that graduates have for their craft, and know the effect that investing a plane, helicopter, or jet will have on future graduates.
“We hear from a lot of people who want to hire more of our graduates and getting new aircraft like these gives us a new variety of options for students to learn and complete projects,” shared Kurt Leslie. “The more training aids we have, the more hands-on experience they get, which leads to companies getting the best employees possible when they hire our graduates.”
The College of Aeronautics is ready to expand the training students will receive to make sure they continue to be recognized as the best in the industry. To learn more about the College of Aeronautics and the opportunities it creates for graduates, click here.