The aerospace program at Three Oaks recently received a donation of surplus equipment from Vector Aerospace. From left is Jeff Poirier, president of Vector, Riley Gallant, Grade 10 student, Bira Zanatta, with Vector, and Donnie Gallant, aerospace program instructor at TOSH. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer
SUMMERSIDE – On the day it rolled off the assembly line it was worth more than $100,000.
Yesterday? It was given away for free – saved from scrap heap by a thrifty engineer.
“It” is a quad-bladed Hartzell aircraft propeller – not an easy item to procure without spending a small fortune.
But Bira Zanatta, an engineer/technician with Vector Aerospace in Slemon Park, managed to find two of the pricey pieces of equipment during a working stint last year at the company’s South African office.
He’d been keeping his eyes peeled for something similar for a while so he arranged to have the propellers shipped back to P.E.I.
One is staying in Slemon Park for the company’s training purposes and the other has been donated to Donnie Gallant’s aerospace program at Three Oaks Senior High.
Zanatta said TOSH was the first place he thought of for a new home for the propeller.
“(These kids) are just starting, so if they can see that type of aircraft apart … it makes it much easier when they get further in college or university,” he said.
Jeff Poirier, president of Vector Aerospace, said he was all for the idea when Zanatta proposed it.
When companies like Vector, and the various other aerospace companies working out of Slemon Park, support TOSH’s aerospace program they are basically investing in themselves, said Poirier.
The earlier they can get kids interested in avionics the more likely they are to choose it as a career path.
“It would be great to see some of these students in Holland College and to be able to welcome them to Vector in two or three year’s time,” said Poirier.
That’s what Gallant likes to hear.
“We’re always open to gifts – we love gifts,” chuckled the teacher.
“We want the kids to have hands-on projects, items they can take apart and learn with.”
This particular piece of equipment is more complex than the other practice propellers the class has on hand, he added, so it’s a real leg-up for them to have it.
“I’m anxious to get into the books on this one and see if we can make this one work – which I’m sure we can,” he said.
The students haven’t had the opportunity yet to do anything with their new propeller, but Grade 10 student Riley Gallant remarked that it looked interesting.
“It looks like we could do a lot of work with it,” he said.