Students Build on Maintenance Training with Extra Project

Recently, a couple of our maintenance training students took it upon themselves to refurbish a decades-old aviation training tool. Now, those same students are at it again. Cole C. and Cody H., both members of the current Term 5 Airframe class, found an unused cowl in a storage room and decided to give it new life. Not only is the project a source of pride, but also helps with extra maintenance training! The cowl came from a Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee. Pat Steele, Term 6 instructor at National Aviation Academy (NAA) in Tampa Bay, actually taxied the Cherokee that the cowl came from!

Extracurricular Maintenance Training

The project began with the intent to create a new wall mount for the Student Council office at NAA Tampa Bay. Cody, Student Council President, aimed to make a stand-out piece that students and staff would appreciate as they walked through the campus halls. He and Cole took on the project as an extracurricular maintenance training opportunity to leave their mark on the campus, and so others could enjoy it even after they graduate!

Preparing the Cowl

First, the duo began to clean the cowl. The cleaning process took a few hours and removed the layers of dust and grime that had collected over time. Next, they added aerodynamic smoothing compounds to fill in any cracks and low spots. After the compounds dried, Cole and Cody sanded the cowl to smooth out any imperfections, leaving it defect-free.

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Cody H. attaches sandpaper to a dual-action sander to begin sanding the cowl.

A Fresh Coat of Paint

The second phase of the project involved the students using aviation-grade epoxy primer and white paint to cover the cowl in a fresh coat. After that had dried, red stripes were painted to match NAA colors. Finally, a clear coat went on to protect the cowl and give it a professional sheen.

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Cole C. sprays on a layer of white paint.

Forming the Propeller

The two-person team began work on the propeller, starting with a styrofoam replica of the blades, but ultimately it was too fragile. Cody and Cole decided to create the propeller from two aluminum pieces at that point. They chamfered the edges and riveted them together before creating a custom bracket that would allow them to attach it to the cowl.

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Cody H. and Cole C. smooth the edges of the failed styrofoam propeller.

Finishing the Project

After that, the pair began to focus on other parts of the cowl. They refinished the original airbox. Next, they added a new light fixture to replace the one that had been missing. To wrap up the project, Cole and Cody added trim to the cowl to finish off the sleek and stylish look.

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The finished product!

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Overall, the project took almost a week to complete in between aviation maintenance training lectures. The finished product is a point of pride, as Cody H., current president of the Student Council, put it: “NAA afforded me the opportunity to have a successful future for my family. The students and staff that have become a small family have changed me and inspired me to strive for greatness. I hope this project can give students encouragement every time they walk by it and be proud of the legacy they are building every day.”

If you would like to become a part of the lasting legacy of National Aviation Academy, please fill out the form below!