Plane donated to community college

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A unique plane has been gifted to an area community college.

Dr. Thomas Carey Jr. of Springfield recently donated his late father’s Piper Cherokee aircraft to Lincoln Land Community College’s aviation program. The plane is being used for hands-on training experiences in aviation mechanics.

An LLCC alum, Dr. Carey has been a pilot for 40 years. His father, Thomas W. Carey Sr., was a pilot for more than 60 years and was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, serving in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

“This model was very special,” explains Carey. “My father flew on missions in a similar aircraft during the Vietnam War and once returned back to base with numerous bullet holes in his plane.”

Carey Sr. purchased the aircraft in 1968. It was only the seventh one built of that particular model.

“It is an honor to continue use of this aircraft as a learning tool in our program to enhance our students’ hands-on training,” says David Pietrzak, program director, LLCC Aviation. “We’re grateful to the Carey family for their generous donation.”

LLCC offers an aviation mechanics program at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in which students can earn airframe and powerplant certificates in 18 months, with degrees in aviation mechanics and aviation management also available. Last year, the median annual wage for aircraft mechanics and service technicians was more than $64,000.

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