Students enrolled in Saint Viator’s STEM program got a rare, inside look at a pair of American Airlines massive hangars at O’Hare International Airport, as well as a tour of some of its most well-known planes, the Airbus 319 and the Boeing 737.
Their tour was hosted by the airline’s maintenance program and its Introduction to Aviation program. American Airlines regularly partners with schools as part of its commitment to promoting interest in aviation and introducing students to STEM careers in aviation.
“This experience was truly a dream come true being able to walk around, under, and inside these massive machines, said Ryder Schuch, whose mother, Judy, helped arrange the tour through American’s Education Liaison program.
Their tour started inside American’s Hangar 1, built in 1957 to house Boeing 707s, Douglas DC-6s and later Boeing 747s. Next, walking through a tunnel, they entered Hanger 2, known as the world’s largest drive-through hangar. It was completed in 2019 and is the largest hangar at O’Hare.
“Hangar 2 boasts more than 195,000 square feet of space, which can hold six narrow body aircraft or three of the newest 787 planes,” says Mrs. Rachel Mroz, Coordinator of the STEM program.
From there, Mrs. Mroz and her students stepped aboard the Airbus 319, where they learned about all the controls in the cockpit.
“It was the only time I’ve ever been in an airplane cockpit,” Ryder said. “This cockpit was almost as technologically advanced as a 787, especially being an aircraft delivered to U.S. Airways 22 years ago.”
Their look inside the 737, included seeing the air-controlled cargo hold, which can accommodate pets as well as luggage. They also toured the cockpit, learning about its rudder pedals, fuel tools and landing gear.
“At the end of the day, we heard from a customer care agent who works at the gate,” Mrs. Mroz added, “and learned that more than 83 people have a hand in getting one plane to take off.”
Ryder is one of many Saint Viator students interested in science, technology, engineering and math, and in his case, aviation. Taking this exclusive tour accompanied their work in the classroom, as part of Saint Viator’s commitment to offering STEM-designated classes -- and experiences.
“I’m extremely thankful to have been able to take part in this experience,” he said, “and I’ll never forget it.”