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Eye On Boise

NIC comes full circle with new aerospace program

Patrick O’Halloran, director of the North Idaho College Aerospace Center in Hayden, is offering the college’s first FAA-approved aircraft maintenance program starting in late August. He talked about the program at the center on Tuesday. (Kathy Plonka)
Patrick O’Halloran, director of the North Idaho College Aerospace Center in Hayden, is offering the college’s first FAA-approved aircraft maintenance program starting in late August. He talked about the program at the center on Tuesday. (Kathy Plonka)

During World War II, North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene trained hundreds of pilots, aircraft mechanics and aviation technicians as part of the nation’s war effort. By 1947 NIC had the nation’s only combination watchmaking and aviation instrument repair program, operating at Weeks Field, now the North Idaho Fairgrounds.

But during the Korean War years, the college updated its vocational programs to things like auto mechanics, and closed its extensive aviation offerings.

Now, NIC has come full circle, as it makes the final addition to its Aerospace Center of Excellence, which opened in 2013 with programs focused on manufacturing and testing. Next month, the center kicks off its new aircraft maintenance program certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“They’ve specifically matched what industry has told them that they need,” said Garry Hojan, operations manager at Aerocet in Priest River and president of the Idaho Aerospace Alliance. “It’s right in line with what industry is looking for.”

Students who start the new airframe maintenance program next month and complete three semesters of rigorous instruction will be qualified to sit for FAA airframe mechanic exams in August 2016; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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