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Winter 2009

News about Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics and the Industries We Serve

• PIA: The “World’s Greatest

Transportation School”

• Last Flights • New Equipment • Finding Historic Crash Sites

Legendary Planes and People G. Null

Legendary folks and planes could be found at the Allegheny County Airport last August as the Collings Foundation flew in a B-17, B-24, and a P-51. Through a donation made to the foundation, PIA students were allowed to get up close and personal with these special machines. But the warbirds were not the only guests of honor to grace the field that day. Lt. Col. John Conn, who flew with the infamous Flying Tigers, made the trip with his daughter from Bethel Park to see these planes. Little did he know that he would become a point of interest too. Lt. Col. Conn flew P-40s and P-51s during the WWII. He preferred the P-51, and his own was named “Pvt. Eileen” after his soon-to-be wife who was an enlisted Marine. He took out eight aircraft as he strafed the Shanghai airfield. “Because of the fire and smoke, it was hard to see which planes were burning and which were still intact,” Lt. Col. Conn admitted. Excitement ran high even when the

Standing in front of the P-51 (from left) Anthony Cmar, Lt. Col. Conn, George Masavage, Rich Hansel, Jeff Turner, Jared Ahl, Ben Ruth, Cameron Speice, Jason Keil, and Antonio Boscia.

American Volunteer Group was on the ground. Lt. Col. Conn mentioned the joy of shooting at the rats that ran between the tents. When food was in short supply, the local Chinese would often slaughter and eat dogs. “They couldn’t help it. There wasn’t any food with the war on,” Conn stated. Many aviators adopted dogs in order to spare them.

Airframe Instructor William Dudash stands with a group from NASA who traveled to PIA to learn composites. PIA now offers Composites classes al-a-carte. If you are interested in these opportunities, please call 1-800-444-1440 for schedules and rates.

EDITORIAL STAFF Greg Null, Editor Frank Bria, Associate Editor/Photography/Layout Cover Photo: Anthony Paul (4Q) inspects one of our GE TF-34s.

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When the war was over, he married Eileen and worked for All State Insurance Co. and he continues to live in Bethel Park. We thank Lt. Col. Conn and his daughter, Linda, for spending some time with the staff and students at PIA. We also thank Lt. Col. Conn and all veterans for their service!

Powerplant Instructor Al Simon challenges every one of his students who pass through his class. When each student lines up to take the Powerplant exam, each knows that if he or she scores a 100, the student will receive a one hundred dollar bill from Mr. Simon. Although students have come close, no one has yet separated Mr. Simon from his money. Due to computerized testing and randomized questions, he tells us, the odds are in his favor. But this does not stop students from striving for perfection. CONTRIBUTORS: Bernard Adams, Brian Allen, James Mader, Todd Kruszka Lola Suvak, Bob Marshall, Ryan Maschak, Whitney Oppe

Thanks, JSfirm A huge thank you goes out to JSFirm. This organization not only sponsored a hole at the 2008 PIA Scholarship Golf Outing, but also sponsored lunch and supplied cigars for the golfers out on the links. Visit to get up-to-date aviation employment information.

Alumni Pins Available The second graduating class from the Youngstown campus included (from left) Frank Guzman, Michael Chima, Chip Haehnel, Chris Burgraf, David Haverdick, Donald Snowden, Larry Kibler, and Macory Thress. Good luck!

Alumni! PIA now has Alumni pins available for purchase. Show your school pride on your lapel, ID tag, or favorite shirt. Each pin is $5. To order, send a check payable to the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, PO Box 10987, Pittsburgh, PA 15236. Make sure to include your name, address, how many pins desired, and even a note on what you are doing these days! Also, take a moment to visit us online at and take a look around. Complete the Alumni Info Form, find out more information on the school, and keep up-to-date with current job openings.

Dr. James Mader (at the podium) addresses the graduation ceremony held at the Youngstown campus in December. Mr. Randy Reynolds (Campus Director), Mr. Bill Ogle (Instructor), Mr. Greg Null (Placement Supervisor), and Mr. Frank Klatte (Assistant Dean) look on.

New in the library: Thank you to those who have donated materials for the Clifford Ball Library: Air Methods, Goodyear Airship Operations, the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation, and Bob Marshall. We would also like to wish Jordan Manns luck in his new career and we now welcome Robert Jahn as our new librarian. Mr. Jahn is currently reorganizing the library to better serve both staff and students.

“Aeronautics was neither an industry nor a science. It was a miracle.” -Igor Sikorsky

PIA is going to Oshkosh, Wisconsin AirVenture 2009

Leaving From PIA July 28th and Returning August 1st Bus $100.00 • 3 Nights Non Air-Conditioned Room $75.00 • 3 Day Event Tickets $87.00 Total cost: $262 Detach and Mail this Reservation form to PIA, PO Box 10897, Pittsburgh, PA 15236

Name:____________________________________________________ Address:___________________________________________________ City:_____________________________ State:________ Zip:________ Phone:______________________ E-Mail:_______________________ Number Of Persons:____________________________________ All alumni, students, friends, and family members are invited. Call the school at 1-800-444-1440 ext. 2152 or e-mail at for more information. Information on Airventure 2009 can be found at or at Winter 2009  3

First Two Weeks of Work R. Maschak-Jun 2008 Editor’s note: Ryan sent us this update and gave us permission to use it in this magazine. We always appreciate hearing from alums, whether retired or just starting out. Thanks for sharing, Ryan! “I felt that I’ve gotten some idea of what I will be doing through the next year working for Pinnacle Airlines and I wanted to share with you and PIA some of my experiences in South Bend, Indiana so far. “Pinnacle owns a small hangar, which was originally a Studebaker factory, right off of the South Bend Regional Airport Terminal; The only Pinnacle-operated building in the area. The only A&P Mechanic shift available is the “graveyard shift”. I work four nights a week, from 8:30 pm to 7:30 am. We normally get three CRJ-200’s a night and they have to roll right back out the next morning. Because they were shorthanded for a while, Pinnacle Maintenance only gives us one A-check out of the three planes to do per night. I foresee that changing possibly in the near future since we are almost operating at 100%. I don’t mind the whole setup so far. I’ve been keeping an open mind, trying to learn as much as possible and the mechanics I work with are easy to get along with. Pinnacle encourages mechanics at this base to get certified for taxiing aircraft to and from the terminal. I am supposed to begin some kind of “indoc” which will teach me how to sign off paper work, gain more knowledge about the planes I work on, and help me get certified for taxiing, etc. I’ve heard a rumor that it may start soon, but nothing is solid yet. “There was a rare occurrence three nights ago where we received a plane that had a faulty left engine and we held it in the hangar until a crew from Tyson or Knoxville, TN came with a replacement engine; the back up plan was to get a ferry permit for the plane. The crew arrived just after 1 am two nights ago and I helped them replace the engine and test it into hours after my clock out time. I never thought how soon I would log in overtime. I’ve heard that it is a rarity though. One thing Technician  4

I didn’t mention is that we only get a one hour break and it is at 1230 AM. I am kind of used to working straight through because I sometimes skipped my breaks at school when I’m focused on something I don’t want to get distracted. When I am at “work” it doesn’t feel like work. Work in my perspective is sitting behind a desk all day signing and moving papers. Since my start day, they have shown me and started letting me do things on my own: I have greased the landing gear, checked and filled the tires with pressure, changed the wheels and brakes, took off and put on the engine cowlings, and I even “rode the brakes” in the cockpit on my second night of work when they tugged the planes out of the hangar. “The engines on the planes are the exact same as the TF-34s the school owns, so my experience definitely comes in handy. Yesterday morning I spent an hour or so helping to install an Integrated Drive Generator on the new left engine. That certainly brought back memories from school. This job doesn’t really make me feel like I’m back in school, but I like it enough now it doesn’t feel like work.”

Brianne Goodwin Instructor of the Quarter: Summer 2008

1969 PIA Graduate Pays a Visit Mr. Tim Kelly, who graduated from PIA in January of 1969, recently visited us to touch base and have a look at all that has happened since he graduated. Frank Klatte, Assistant Dean of Students, gave Tim and his father Ed a tour of the facilities. Upon graduating from PIA, Mr. Kelly went into the US Air Force, and served four years as a mechanic on various aircraft, including B-52s and AC-130s. Upon leaving the Air Force, he entered civil service and was employed by the Department of Defense in a wide variety of aviation job titles, including Quality Control Specialist, Industrial Specialist, and Supply Chain Manager. He has recently retired, having spent a total of thirty-six years in aviation, and has become a consultant in ISO-related matters. While discussing his experiences as a student at PIA in the sixties, he remembered many of his instructors with great fondness including Norman Stenger, Robert Gay, and James Shanahan. His father remembered meeting Mr. Ivan Livi and former television personality Don Riggs, a long-time friend and supporter of PIA. When asked about his long and distinguished aviation career, he summed it up in three words: “What a ride!”

Al Simon Instructor of the Quarter: Spring 2008

Tom O’Keefe Instructor of the Quarter: Fall 2008

Ed and Tim Kelly

Shawn Smith ATEC Student of the Year PIA Student Shawn Smith, a January 2009 graduate, was selected and honored at the Aviation Technical Education Council (ATEC) Conference held in Las Vegas, NV last spring as the 2008 ATEC Student of the Year. This award is open only to aviation maintenance students whose grades and skills have sent them to the head of the class. After much deliberation, Shawn was chosen out of all of the country’s Part 147 schools’ top students. “It was a great honor to be selected from the students of PIA. and other part 147 schools throughout the nation,” said Smith. “I’m proud to be the 2008 ATEC AMT Student of the Year. The top award was a three-day all expenses paid trip to Las Vegas. The convention was held on top of the Riviera casino, where tool venders and other suppliers had their displays set up. I attended many seminars that were quite informative and interesting. There was a lot to do and see and I had a real good time.” Shawn also had some kind words for the instructors and Alumni, we want to hear from you! Do you have a new job or have you just retired? Did you get married or become a parent or grandparent? Are you happy with your current work? Let us know so we can share it with the alumni and students through the Technician “Touch N’ Go” column! Call 412.346.2101 or email and we will gladly write up an announcement in our next issue.

Dr. James Mader congratulates Shawn Smith (Jan 2009) ATEC’s Student of the Year.

staff at PIA: “I would like to thank all the staff members whose donations made it possible for my wife to accompany me on this trip.” Thank you, Shawn, for your hard work and dedication!

Touch N’ Go Craig Tripp (AMT/AET ’05) stopped by on a service call from Gulfstream’s Savannah Service Center. He is happy to announce he is the proud father of a three month old and a 1940 J-3 Cub. John Rugh (AMT ’88) has celebrated 20 years of service at Pratt and Whitney Overhaul and Repair in Connecticut. He currently lives in Terryville, CT. Congratulations, John! Cory Highfield (AMT ‘04) married Martha Jensen on May 17, 2008 in Jamestown, NY. Cory is working at GE Aircraft Engines in Durham, NC.

Craig Tripp

PIA grads can be found all over the country Here is a list of where our recent grads are working:

Advanced Gas Engine Solutions: Monroeville, PA • Airframe and Engine Solutions Worldwide: Bridgeport, WV • Air Wisconsin: Norfolk, VA • Bombardier Aerospace: Bridgeport, WV • Bucyrus: Houston, PA • Compunetics: Monroeville, PA • Commutair: Cleveland, OH • Dynamic Aviation: Bridgewater, VA • Fayard Enterprises: Franklinton, NC • General Atomics: Palmdale, CA • Gulfstream Aerospace: Savannah, GA • Gulfstream International Airlines: Reynoldsville, PA • Hagerstown Aviation: Hagerstown, MD • Lightship Group: Orlando, FL • LJ Aviation: Latrobe, PA • Paradigm Aerospace: Mt Pleasant, PA • Pinnacle Airlines: • South Bend and Ft. Wayne, IN • PSA Airlines: Vandalia, OH • Republic Airways: Pittsburgh, PA • Schweizer: Horseheads, NY

As PIA graduates, you are welcome to take advantage of placement services. We will help you polish a resume, put you in contact with employers, and set up on-campus interviews. If you are interested in these services or if you want to know what other opportunities are out there, call 412.346.2101 or email

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Rags to Riches for a Cessna 152 B.W. Allen

All too often we hear of a story of an old aircraft that has been brought back to life after a brief or even an extended time out of service. This is a story about a 1978 Cessna 152 we acquired well over a year ago. The aircraft began its service life in 1978 and had somehow managed to find a home in a flight school where we all know would prove to be quite the test for durability. I remember working on this plane way back in 1989 while performing a dual role as an instructor by day, and maintenance technician by night. This is where we first met, but it wouldn’t be the last time we spent some time together. A storm had taken the old bird from service in 2003, we figured we could have the wing back in shape by June of 2008. So we brought it into the live shop and began looking it over from nose tip-totail. The live shop, as well as various other areas within PIA, began doing their parts for the cause. After many manhours of work, we in fact had it ready for its maiden voyage into the wild blue yonder. Here is an interesting twist in the story! Both my kids graduated this year in June and my wife decided to show me the pictures she had chosen for a story board as part of the celebration. Keep in mind that she had no way of knowing of all the details that I previously describe other than I was working on an old plane. I was in awe when I saw the picture of the first time she and my son had visited me on the lower west ramp of the county airport. Here we were, walking in front of the same one we had just finished June 2008. I put my son in the cockpit and completed a run-up and taxi test (1988) prior to signing off the 100 hours inspection at the time. I sat back and thought about the odds of this turn of events and was amazed how things sometime play out. I had the second picture taken in June 2008 with my son for my memories. I still don’t know which came out of this rags-to-riches: the aircraft or us. 6  Technician

PIA in the News L. Suvak

Recently PIA was selected as the “World’s Best Transportation School”, by a network TV show “World’s Greatest!” which takes a fast paced tour around the world showcasing amazing people, companies, and destinations. There are a million reasons why we think that PIA could have been picked for this show, but according to the show’s Executive Producer Gordon Freeman, “They’re innovative, exciting, and they have a great story to tell.” It truly was an exciting day for everyone at PIA when they came to tape the show. Our faculty and students proudly donned their PIA attire and eagerly awaited their chance to tell the camera why they think PIA is the “World’s Greatest Transportation School”. When the show aired it became a sensational piece that told the world that after 80 years, PIA continues to produce “The World’s Best” Aviation Maintenance Technicians, Aviation Electronic Technicians, Truck Drivers, and Heavy Equipments Operators and continues to thrive. PIA’s national exposure also garnered local recognition, when we were highlighted by Pittsburgh’s premier Emmy-winning television news magazine “On Q” airing weeknights on WQED. Contributor Harold Hayes of KDKA-TV visited

PIA’s fleet of trucks await the nation’s future long haul truckers.

campus and put together the show focusing on the history and tradition of PIA’s success and our continued commitment to excellence. Three students really took the time to enlighten Mr. Hayes and made the extra effort to demonstrate the skills they learned here. A special thanks to Andrea Ireland, Victor Udechukwu, and Jeremy Aaron. To watch the segment, go to php?id=397&search=pittsburgh%20Insti tute%20of%20Aeronautics This was another opportunity for PIA to remind Pittsburgh of what an outstanding Aviation Maintenance and Aviation Electronics school that it has right in its own backyard.

Andrea Ireland (7Q) and onQ Contributor Harold Hayes tour the hangar as WQED videographer Frank Caloiero frames the shot.

Oshkosh Revisited B. Adams

The word “Oshkosh” to anyone in the aviation community means airplanes, and lots of them. PIA revisited AirVenture 2008 for the second year in a row. To the “rookie,” walking through the gates is overwhelming. To the veterans, they have a game plan. As in years past, exhibitors were lined just inside the main gates. Walking past the exhibitors and into Aeroshell Square, one can see rows of homebuilts, warbirds and vintage aircraft on the field. The EAA was skeptical on the attendance this year because of the price of fuel. The crowds were still impressive. As EAA President Tom Poberezny stated, “Attendance at this year’s event, coupled with the fuel and economic issues, validates the unique relationship between EAA members and Oshkosh, and between government officials and Oshkosh.” As usual, AirVenture is the unveiling of new things to come. On opening night, Burt Rutan and Sir Richard Branson introduced White Night Two, Virgin Galactic’s attempt to launch the commercial spacecraft industry. The Martin Jetpack also made its debut. The flight lasted only seconds and was confined to Aeroshell Square. The Rocket Racing League performed daily. Teams from Airbus and General Electric were present, with the goal of “stimulating the AI and GE teams on themes of innovation for the aerospace industry”. They looked at the homebuilts, recreational, and sport aircraft to energize the way they look at it from a corporate standing. Several hundred women pilots assembled in Aeroshell square for world’s largest gathering of female aviators. 23,000 youths visited KidVenture where kids learned to rivet, measured voltage, repaired sheet metal, built model rockets, balsa planes and flew a high-tech flight simulator. PIA plans on being a part of this next year. Harrison Ford was on hand to address the Gathering of Eagles and also introduced Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom at the Fly-In Theater. Also at the theater this year was comedi-

an and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham and an opening day concert with the rock group Foreigner. The planning for AirVenture 2009 has begun. White Night Two has been confirmed already. PIA has begun planning as well.

As EAA president Tom Poperezny puts it so well, “Oshkosh is where the aviation world comes to energize their batteries, share the passion for flight, and do business”. Mark your calendars for next year: July 27- August 2, 2009.

This exact Beech Staggerwing belonged to William Graham, the grandfather of PIA’s current president John Graham III. You never know what you may find at Oshkosh.

PIA travelers and their bus. The photo was printed in EAA Airventure Today.

PIA article in EAA AirVenture Today

If you were at EAA Airventure 2008, you may have noticed PIA staff, students, and alumni wearing yellow shirts as they looked over the planes and vendors. You may also have noticed the bus prominently adorned with the PIA logo. And if you were a reader of Saturday’s EAA Airventure Today, the daily newspaper of Oshkosh events, you would have seen the group picture of those who traveled 12 hours from Pittsburgh to Wisconsin, and the bus that got them there. Read the article at 7sat2/students.html.

“Patience is merely the art of concealing one’s impatience.” “We are only young once, but we can be immature indefinitely.”

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The Last Flights

Bill O’ Brien W. Oppe -2Q

Bill O’Brien was the FAA National Resource Specialist, influential writer for AMT magazine, and a graduate of PIA died this year. He was an eloquent speaker with the ability to inspire those who attended his seminars. As a well-respected aircraft mechanic, O’Brien was generous with his time regarding other mechanics. He was well read and had the experience to make an impact in his field. He always viewed his position with the FAA as a way to serve people, and along the way, he brought back the respect for the mechanical aspect of aviation. His dream was for those with A&P certificates to know their craft better than anyone and spent most of his career instilling this dream in others. He planned to fulfill this goal by helping those without degrees to further their education. This led to his creation of a program at Eastern New Mexico University that aided those with A&Ps to continue on toward a degree. O’Brien formed many lasting relationships. Taking care of the men and women in the hangar was his priority. By improving the way the FAA worked with A&Ps, he healed a relationship that had been strained for quite some time. With his creation of the Charles E. Taylor Master Mechanic Award, he gave aircraft mechanics with fifty years of experience the recognition they deserved. O’Brien was the resource on FAA regulations and many A&Ps sought him out for clarification of these rules over the years. He did not believe that regulations hindered mechanics if they could understand and use them for their benefit. Although O’Brien accomplished many things, he will be remembered most for his humor and personality. On the day of his retirement from the FAA, O’Brien performed his infamous “Happy Dance” on the FAA headquarters stairs. This quote sums up his thoughts on being an A&P: “If you work with your hands and your hands only, you are a laborer. If you work with your hands and your mind, you are

Dick Ward (center) receiving the FAA’s Charles Taylor Master Mechanic and the Wright Brothers Master Pilot awards.

Dick Ward B. Adams

A dear friend of the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics passed away this year. Richard “Dick” Ward passed away May 16, 2008. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, he pursued his aviation career flying float planes and purchasing his first plane at age 17. During WWII, he served in the U.S. Navy in Panama as a PBM-5 engineer and after serving in the Navy, he graduated from PIA. Dick and his wife Donna, moved to Three Rivers, Michigan, where he became manager at an FBO and started his own company, Ward Aero, which became the pioneer in overhauling aircraft accessories. Dick also started “Forward Horizons LLC.,” which is an aviation consulting firm, and be-

ing the owner of a D-50 Twin Bonanza, started The Twin Bonanza Society. He was an avid supporter of the “Air Zoo” in Kalamazoo, Michigan and flew medical evacuations from Belize. Dick earned his Inspector Authorization and a flight instructor certificate. He also worked as a charter pilot and as an author. On May 10, 2008, he was awarded the FAA’s Charles Taylor Master Mechanic and the Wright Brothers Master Pilot award. Dick was also instrumental in helping PIA acquire some of its aircraft. Surviving him is his wife of 58 years, Donna; son Dane and wife Connie; son Mark; and son Greg and wife Theresa.

a craftsman. But if you work with your hands, your mind, and your heart, then you are a professional.” Bill O’Brien was a professional and will be remembered forever in the world of aviation maintenance.

Always remember that you fix an airplane with your head, not your hands. Bill O’Brien

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Employee Anniversaries! 35 years- Gary Hoyle, PIA’s Dean of Students graduated from this school in October 1967. After working for Sikorsky and United Airlines, he was drafted into the Army and served in Vietnam in 1970. Upon his return, he was hired by PIA in 1973 as an instructor and has taught in every quarter and carried a variety of titles: Instructor, Electrical Department Head, Director of Training, and currently Dean of Students. He holds an A&P certificate and a DME license. When he is not working, Gary enjoys remodeling houses, floating on the rivers, and watching his four grandchildren (Tiana, Anthony, Nicole, and Tory) grow up. The most gratifying part of this job, Gary told us, is starting so many students off in a great industry.

Gary Hoyle

Chuck Miller has been on the maintenance staff for the last 25 years. Trained at the Westmoreland County Community College, Chuck came here with a wealth of electrical knowledge and soon learned all building systems inside PIA’s buildings and hangars. He enjoys how each day brings a different set of challenges. When he isn’t here keeping the place together, Chuck enjoys bike riding and has completed the MS150 mile ride to Erie and State College, both benefiting the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Chuck Miller

Brian Allen

20 years- Brian Allen came to PIA in 1987 after the Marine Corps and jobs in the machinist trade. In 1988, Brian was hired as a powerplant instructor and has never stopped since. He was an instrumental part of the high school curriculum and spent seven years at the WV United Technical Center. In 2001, he came back to Pittsburgh and was appointed Supervisor of Secondary Studies and is now Assistant Dean. During his tenure here, Brian has won many awards including the FAA Ruby Award and the ATEC Aviation Maintenance Educator of the Year (1999). He is a driving force with the Live Shop program and a frequent contributor to this publication. He holds an A&P, Inspection Authorization, and DME license.

10 years- Leroy Nicholson is a School of Specialized Technology instructor who started driving a truck, and working on planes in the Navy. Leroy taught in PIA’s CDL program and after earning his FCC GROL and FAA A&P, he began teaching aviation maintenance in the School of Specialized Technology. Leroy also holds single engine airplane and commercial helicopter licenses. His biggest project is building a fourplace airplane and hopes to have it airworthy within the next year. Leroy Nicholson

10 years- Donata Clark, PIA’s Financial Aid Officer, was originally hired to run the bookstore. She earned a Social Work degree from the University of Dayton and those skills come in handy when helping students through their FAFSAs. An avid reader, Donata likes to read anything other than the dry financial aid regulations and loves the Steelers and Penguins. She has two sons, Daniel who graduated from PIA in 2006 and is now earning his degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue; and Colin who is working on an Art Education degree at IUP. Donata Clark

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Twenty-four students Twenty-four eggs Twenty-four students. Twenty-four eggs. One set of Air Stairs. Physics class at PIA tested their theories out on the tarmac one beautiful Friday afternoon. Each student was instructed to create a contraption that could be dropped from a height of 25 feet while maintaining egg survivability. Ms. Brianne Goodwin, the Physics instructor, noted that this activity brings some fun and creativity into the lessons on momentum and collisions chapter. “Less force over a longer period of time will not crack the egg. A cushion, like a car air bag, is needed,” she said. The requirements were as follows: the device must not be larger than a shoe box, no parachutes, and no compressed gases. Each device was dropped from the top of the Air Stairs by Ms. Goodwin. Along with this activity, each student submitted a worksheet that included Physics vocabulary and a space to reflect on their design. This is where the critical thinking comes into play: what would the student have done differently? What should stay the same? In the end, the students got a chance to be creative and see Physics right before their eyes from 25 feet in the air.

Michael Gravely’s Batman plane, although stylish, scrambled the egg. The egg shifted midflight, leaving him with a mess. Scott Wagner’s neck pillow/shoebox combination worked well as the pillow cradled the egg and dampened the blow. His craft was successful. Seth Kreider’s contraption was also a hit. He took a corrugated cardboard cylinder and stuffed it with foam. When he was

Physics Instructor Brianne Goodwin launches an egg-filled craft outside of Hangar 4.

done, it looked like it had shoulder pads, so Seth added a Steelers outfit to psyche up the crowd and ride the Pre-Season wave of triumph. It worked, as the egg and uniform both survived the 25 foot fall. There is no doubt that this activity is fun. But it also incorporates creativity and critical thinking into a design that works, skills that are very much needed in a globalized workforce.

NCATT instructor at PIA-James Zack J. Mader

Congratulations to James Zack. Jim has become PIA’s first NCATT (National Center for Aviation Technician Training) certified instructor. NCATT has developed an avionics curriculum that is rapidly becoming an industry standard for quality aviation electronics training. Jim passed his NCATT qualifying exam in December 2008, allowing PIA to pursue institutional certification from the Center. We are appreciative of his efforts.

Powerplant Instructor Pat Buono examines these APUs with (from left) 6Q students Dustin Stack, Cody Custer, Dan Fowler, Matt Coleman, and John Dunbar. These APUs were donated by Goodyear. These donations will now serve as learning tools for future students. Thanks, Goodyear!

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James Zack

High – Tech Treasure Hunt B. Marshall- 4Q

Do you have a love for adventure, like the outdoors, and have an interest in electronic gadgets? Geocaching, (pronounced geo-cashing,) may be for you. All over the world, there are “caches” waiting to be found. A cache is a waterproof container, usually an ammo box or Tupperware container, containing a logbook and assorted “treasures” such as matchbox cars and key rings. The high-tech part comes in when you program the coordinates of the hide in your handheld GPS receiver and use the government’s $20,000,000 satellite system to guide you on the hunt. There are more than 620,000 caches hidden in over 220 countries around the world and more are being placed every day. There are even aviation-related caches. Near Ligonier, PA, there is a cache dedicated to a Helldiver crash site where the old Jacobs radial engine is still lying on the side of the mountain. Down in Western Maryland, there is a cache named “Buzz One-Four,” which was the call sign for a Strategic Air Command B-52 that crashed in the mountains back in 1964. You need to find the monument to figure out where the cache is hidden. In Arizona, there is another aviation cache known as “Warthog Down.” In 2001, an A-10 Thunderbolt went down, but the pilot was able to eject safely and this is where the pieces of the Warthog came to rest.

Here lies the monument of Buzz One-Four. This is just one of the out-of-the-way pieces of hisory that can be found while geocaching.

All you need to get into the game is internet access and a GPS receiver that can be purchased new for less than $100, and for the more frugal minded, used units should be available in the $40 to $50 range. Go to and check it out. There is no charge to register on the site. By entering any zip code on the homepage, you will be given the information to seek all the caches in the area. Caches are rated by stars for difficulty of placement and terrain challenge, with a 1 star being the easiest and a 5 star

being the most challenging rated cache. A cache rated with a 1 star terrain is handicapped accessible, while a 5 star cache demands special equipment and training such as a kayak or rappelling gear. If you are looking for a game/sport that doesn’t cost a lot of money and will give you lots of good exercise (both mentally and physically), geocaching might just be what you have been looking for.

Jon Kiser (3Q) was recently awarded the Aviation Foundation Scholarship that put $1000 toward his education at PIA. To present the award were (from left) Donald Rhodes, Aviation Foundation; Gary Hoyle, Dean of Students; Karl Voigt, Aviation Foundation; Jon Kiser; John Graham III, President of PIA; and Peg Jackson, Assistant to the President.

First place awards went to (from left) Dan Armstrong, Aaron Kostelansky, Randy Davis, and Dave Armstrong at the 2008 PIA Scholarship Golf Outing held at the Quicksilver Golf Club.

Winter 2009  11

Writing Letters of Recommendation

From time to time

As we move up the chain of command, we will oversee others who will one day wish to do the same. As they prepare to start their own careers in maintenance, management, teaching, or other ventures, they may ask you for a letter of recommendation. It is too easy to say “write one up yourself and I will sign it.” This is a disservice to someone who thinks enough about you to ask in the first place. Letters of recommendation do not have to be long. With some thought and these pointers, you will be able to write a letter about someone for whom you wish success.

From time to time, the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics receives equipment donations from individuals and companies. We rely on these engines, components, aircraft, and other items to give our students an opportunity to work on real world equipment. We thank all of those donors who have helped PIA in the past and ask that those who are upgrading or disposing of surplus equipment to keep us in mind. As a not-forprofit 501(c)3 institution, donations are tax-deductible. If you are interested in donating, please call Frank Bria at 1-800-444-1440 for information. Thank you!

G. Null



Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics P.O. Box 10897 Pittsburgh PA 15236



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“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.”

412-346-2100 • Fax 412-466-0513 • 1-800-444-1440 •

1. Make sure that your letter is on company letterhead (if business-oriented). 2. Start off with this header: To: Whom it may concern From: Your name Re: Name of recommended person 3. The 1st paragraph should introduce how you know this person, for how long, and a few qualities that stand out in the person. (about two sentences) As a shift supervisor, I have worked with John Smith since July 2004 at Highflying Air. I find that John is a hard worker who is eager to learn new things. 4. The 2nd paragraph should back up those qualities with a short example. (two-three sentences) John has spent countless hours on and off the clock learning as much as he can about the aircraft we use here. He has also gone out of his way to teach new technicians what he has learned, which has led to a more efficient maintenance team. 5. The 3rd paragraph should wrap up by formally recommending the person and making an offer of contact should the reviewers need more info: (two sentences) I highly recommend John Smith for a supervisor position as he has proven to be a natural leader. If you require any information, please do not hesitate to contact me at 555-555-1234. 6. Skip a space, type Sincerely, skip four spaces and type your name and position. Spell check. Read out loud. Have someone else read it. Does it make sense? 7. Print out a few copies for the person so they will have a few to spare. 8. Sign your name in ink between Sincerely and your typed name. 9. One final note on recommendations. If someone you would not recommend asks for a letter, decline to write one. To lie or write a distasteful letter does not do the person, the industry, or yourself any favors.

Technician - Winter 2009  

The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics' magazine highlighting the school, its students and alumni. The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics...

Technician - Winter 2009  

The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics' magazine highlighting the school, its students and alumni. The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics...