The aviation class at Niagara-Wheatfield High School, taught by science teacher Norm Utech, recently visited the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport's TSA secure facility as well as the FAA's air traffic control tower.
Students had an opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at what typical passengers experience as they go through security at the airport, as well as go beneath the airport terminal to see the inner workings of the luggage-handling system and how TSA handles thousands of bags and checks them before they move on to the aircraft.
Utech said his students were praised by the officials giving the tour for their interest and their insightful questions about the airport and possible career opportunities in the field of airport security.
The class moved on to the FAA control tower where students experienced, firsthand, the airport's approach and departure section (a dark room filled with radar scopes), and then the tower itself more than 100 feet up overlooking the airport runways and taxiways. Again, students stepped up to the challenge and were answering technical aviation questions and impressing those around them with their knowledge and attitude, Utech said.
The final treat of the day was a stop at Prior Aviation's facility at the west end of the airport, where students were taken out to the ramp area to perform a preflight inspection of various aircraft. Then, two lucky students went up in a Cessna 172 with Utech.
The high school's aviation class is offered as an elective science course for students interested the aviation field. The course is designed around the FAA's pilot ground school curriculum with added topics such as "History of Aviation" and "Career's in Aviation." All students enrolled in the course have the opportunity to experience being the co-pilot of an actual training airplane.