Fed Ex delivers a classroom with wings to Sowela

March 2, 2007

Reported by Lee Peck

A FedEx boeing 727 made it's final flight Thursday in Lake Charles, making its last delivery to Sowela's technical community college.

As KPLC's Lee Peck reports, a crowd waited through wind and rain to see the new "classroom with wings." The rains came pouring down as Sowela students, faculty and local business leaders eagerly awaited the FedEx delivery. Those with and without umbrellas sought shelter under a jet.

FedEx sales and acquisitions manager, David Sutton says "It's a distinct pleasure for me to be with you all today in Lake Charles. I guarantee that this is one event you won't soon forget."    Right on schedule the Boeing 727 arrived at it's new home, marking the FedEx express jet's final flight.

Sowela welcomes the donation of the recently retired aircraft. Sutton says "Hopefully the kids here at the school will have a real opportunity of hands on training experience on a real live transport category aircraft." Aspiring aircraft maintenance technician students wasted no time to line up to take the grand tour.

Sowela aviation mechanics student Nathan Lovell says"I haven't been this excited about school since I started." It's an advantage for these students, who typically only receive training on smaller aircraft. Another aviation mechanics student Alan Canpion says, "It's just a new aircraft. I guess there are like many, many different systems that we don't have the chance to study on the other aircraft."

Others can't wait to take start taking the plane apart. Lovell agrees, "It's just a wealth of things we can do to it, as far as learning about the air frame, the structure beneath the skin, the engines...it's just a huge windfall. Being able to take apart the large turbine engines and see how the fans interact and the gears go together."

It's real world experience, that looks real good on a resume. Sutton says "When they get out in the industry and get a job with a company, an airline, or a maintenance provider they'll be well ahead of the curve." Lovell agrees, "There's a good chance that my employer will say that this guy has actually taken the wings off this airplane. He's actually seen how this engine works."

So while it may now be in retirement, the 727 still has much work ahead, only this time it's delivering higher education.

Before its final flight in Lake Charles, the aircraft flew 23 years as a passenger jet for United Airlines, then provided FedEx with more than 17 years of service delivering packages throughout the U.S.