Aviation Program Takes Flight

Dec. 19, 2017

​​​​Nelson Mandela High School is in its second full year, and as a result, so too is its Aviation program, which now has a full complement of students from Grades 10-12. Teachers Chris Harke, Scott Haskell and Mark Kost have designed a program that exposes students to the aviation industry as a potential career path. Nelson Mandela High School has benefitted from the generosity of both SAIT and Soul Helicopters – who have supported the program through donations of equipment that greatly support and enhance hands-on learning opportunities. In the program, students are exposed to the following content:

Structures and Structural Repair

  • Creating parts and shapes to aerospace industry-accepted standards
  • Aircraft sheet metal
  • Skin repair of aircraft wings and fuselage


  • Use of flight simulator software to emulate light, general-aviation aircraft
  • Specialist knowledge in preparation for obtaining a private pilot’s license
  • Potential for earning their Restricted Radio Operator’s Certificate

In addition to the work students are doing on campus, Ryan Emond, off-campus coordinator,, has partnered with Rocky Mountain Aircraft (RMA) to deliver a hands-on, off-campus, exploratory program. Currently, Preetpal S, Harjesven D and Sartaj T travel to RMA on non-instructional days during the 2017-18 school year and work with industry experts in three, 25-hour rotations focusing on:

  1. Structures – bending aluminum, fastener replacements, test fitting fixtures and painting and prep
  2. Maintenance – flight control cable runs; cleaning, assembling and disassembling components; assisting with assembly of aircraft and fabricating fluid lines
  3. Avionics – interpreting wiring diagrams, installing wire runs and instrumentation testing

For Preetpal S, this opportunity this confirmed his interest in the aviation industry. “I have applied to and been accepted in the Aircraft maintenance program at SAIT. I am excited about applying what I have learned in school and at RMA.”

Nelson Mandela High School Principal Teresa Martin says she feels that this program provides a hands-on opportunity that engages students in meaningful and relevant learning that prepares them for experiences in the real world. 

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Student using rivet gun to install rivets.