Program has students reaching for the skies

Mount Douglas student gains insight on a career in aviation

Mount Douglas secondary senior Shae Morgan recently completed the Greater Victoria school district’s brand new aviation and design program

It’s safe to say that aviation is in Shae Morgan’s blood.

His great uncle was a pilot in the Second World War, his grandfather on his dad’s side worked on airplanes in the Air Force, and his other grandfather worked on the Concorde.

“My mom was born in Bristol while he was doing the electrical for it,” said the Grade 12 Mount Douglas secondary student. “It’s kind of already been in my family quite a bit.”

That’s why it made sense for Morgan to sign up for the Greater Victoria school district’s aviation and design program, which introduces students to potential careers in flight and pairs them with industry professionals on Vancouver Island for five-week internships.

“We do projects and learn about the history of aviation and the more mechanical side,” said Morgan. “Different types of airplanes and the basics of flight.”

Morgan spent much of the semester in the classroom with Mount Douglas woodshop and drafting teacher John Sumner, who spent 25 years in Britain’s Royal Navy working in aviation. From there, students visited the Victoria Flying Club twice a week for ground school, where they got a first-hand taste of what it’s like to fly.

“We got to do a Discovery Flight and we all hopped in the Cessnas and swarmed Nanaimo,” said Morgan with a laugh.

Morgan did his internship with Viking Air, though the program also offers placements with Pacific Sky, Vancouver Island Helicopters, Vancouver Island Aerospace, the Victoria Flying Club and the Airport Authority.

Todd Sjerven, manager of occupational health and safety and facilities at Viking Air, said they try to match students’ interests with the different areas of their organization.

“We had a couple kids in our engineering group getting exposed to some design and production,” said Sjerven. “We had a couple of students on the shop floor building and assembling aircraft parts.

“We want to give them exposure to as many different parts of our operation so they could understand all the jobs that we have here and see if something might interest them for a career.”

While the ground school was a great experience, Morgan said he gravitated more toward the manufacturing side of the industry after trying his hand at plating and painting aircraft parts.

“Everything that goes into an airplane and into making the parts and assembling it, there’s such precision in everything, it’s very interesting to me,” he said. “I liked flying, but it wasn’t as much my calling as the manufacturing side.”

Morgan said the program has influenced him to pursue aircraft manufacturing after high school. He said he’s looking at taking some trades courses to prepare him for the job and transition to a career in aviation.

“The program’s been such a great opportunity,” he said. “It offers so much to kids like myself in high school. These are things we would not have access to if it wasn’t for the program. It’s really advantageous for us and it’s just been an amazing experience.

“I didn’t really know what I was going to do after high school. This gave me more direction.”



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