Aircraft mechanics program opening at Charlotte Technical College

A multi-million dollar learning tool was donated to a local school.

Steven Zavalney has always loved planes.

He drove to Lakeland over the weekend to photograph an aerospace expo.

“They are magical machines,” Zavalney said.

Zavalney is retired and doesn’t need to work, but he was the first student to enroll in Charlotte Technical College’s new aviation mechanic’s program at the Punta Gorda Airport.

There is a demand for aircraft mechanics as the airport grows, according to Punta Gorda Airport.

The program at Charlotte Technical College received $1.7 million from the state of Florida to launch the program.

“We took an empty, dirty hangar over there and cleaned it up, painted the floors and all of the new equipment,” Zavalney said.

The program is just months away from take-off. An aircraft engine trading firm donated a 500,000-pound engine, valued at $2 million, to the school.

The engine will give students hands-on training.

“The one that we have is actually an operating engine that we can actually start up and run and put in an airplane. And hopefully, help the airplane move forward if need be,” said Deelynn Bennett, director at Charlotte Technical College.

High school students and adults will start classes in the fall.

“You can absolutely do it,” Zavalney said. “Just put your mind to it. Just get out there and do it.”


Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Melissa Montoya
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