March 6, 2020

Over 50 airframe and powerplant (A&P) students from San Francisco Bay Area community colleges met with business aviation maintenance professionals at the Maintenance Mentor Roundtable, where the industry veterans listened to the young people’s aspirations and provided encouragement and career advice.

The event – hosted by the Northern California Business Aviation Association (NorCalBAA) and organized by NBAA Western Regional Representative Phil Derner, Jr. – was held March 4 at Oakland International Airport (OAK).

Students from Gavilan Community College in Gilroy, CA, and Solano Community College in Fairfield, CA, shared their personal challenges, professional goals and passion for engines, avionics and problem-solving, while the professionals discussed the importance of mentorship, networking and job interviewing skills.

“You’re in serious demand,” NorCalBAA President Craig Bowers told the group, referencing the growing shortage of technicians within business aviation.

“For every graduating student, four different employers call,” noted retired electrical engineer and avionics professor Herb Spenner, who has taught aviation maintenance technology students at Gavilan College for the past 10 years.

“Opportunities like this were not available when I was coming up as an A&P mechanic. Absorb as much knowledge as you can,” added Barte Amond, general manager of KaiserAir’s FBO at Oakland who also helped plan the event, with monetary support from GoRentals and World Fuel.

Other roundtable participants included NBAA Director of Technical Operations Stewart D’Leon, ViaSat Aviation Director of Fleet and MRO Partnerships Jim Huntoon, and Mente Group Private Aviation Vice President of Talent Acquisition Colleen Kelly. The roundtable also featured a surprise appearance from Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger, famed pilot of the Miracle on the Hudson, who later posted about the event on his social media channels.