Students who dream of taking to the skies are getting their start on the ground.
In a partnership spanning decades, the Lucile M. Wright Air Museum and Jamestown Community College are offering a program to students interested in all things aircraft. The program - called Student Exploratory Aircraft Mechanics - is funded by the Chautauqua County Region Community Foundation through a community service grant.
The SEAM program is available for all students of high school age, including home-schooled students, and any adults who are interested in learning about the inner workings of aircraft. According to Edward Martiny, curator of the L.M.W. Air Museum, students will receive extensive hands-on training and learn a variety of trades.
Students, teachers and board members at the Lucile M. Wright Air Museum pose behind their restoration project, a Great Lakes Biplane trainer, at JCC’s Manufacturing Technology Institute.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
"(The students) will learn how to do all types of welding," said Martiny. "They learn how to do settling, arc, brazing, tungsten inert gas, metal inert gas, all of them with an aviation slant."
The focus of application for these learned skills is in repairing a Great Lakes Biplane trainer. The plane was donated by Victor Torrito of Busti-Sugar Grove Road and allows students to work on their newly acquired welding and basic electrical wiring skills. After only three classes, the students had designed their own fuse panel switchboard and had wired the plane for tail and wing lighting.
After construction of the plane is finished, it will be displayed inside the L.M.W. Air Museum.
"This airplane will never fly," said Martiny. "It doesn't have a firewall or an engine, it probably wouldn't fit in the museum if it did. But what we're trying to do is show people what an airplane looks like when it's not covered. Half of it will be open and the other half will be covered with a firewall."
There are also plans for a helicopter to be airlifted into the museum through a window opening. The helicopter was built by the late Dr. Paul Keverline of Warren, a noted eye surgeon who was killed in a plane crash. It was donated to the museum by his wife.
The SEAM program hosts classes every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at JCC's Manufacturing Technological Institute. This session of classes will runs through the months of October and November and, if funding permits, another session will take place in April and May.
The L.M.W. Air Museum also coordinates the Fly to Learn Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program powered by X-plane virtual flight software. The program will be starting the Jamestown Public Schools afterschool program with 10 lesson curricula at Jefferson and Washington Middle Schools.
There are plans to open a new downtown museum after the installation of the Great Lakes Biplane and helicopter. The museum will be located at 300 N. Main St. near the Lucy-Desi Museum.
To learn more about the L.M.W. Air Museum and the SEAM program, visit lucilemwrightairmuseum.org.