1 Vision opens Big Bertha hangar at Salina Airport

Terry Spruce
By Terry Spruce November 4, 2019 14:16

1 Vision opens Big Bertha hangar at Salina Airport

Hangar H959 at Salina Airport better known as Big Betha has been re-opened with new resident 1 Vision Aviation.

“First time I saw it, driving by, I thought there was gonna be a 1 Vision (Aviation) sign on it,” said Sponder, president and CEO of Salina Regional Airport’s newest tenant.

“I said to myself, ‘Self, we’re gonna be in this hangar.’ I put a lot of work in hangars. I sleep in hangars,” he said October 25 during 1 Vision’s ribbon cutting ceremony.

His first glimpse of the hangar building — officially named Hangar H959 — was three years ago. It launched the process of expanding his Sioux City, Iowa-based aircraft maintenance firm to the Salina airport.

“It was the size of the hangar,” Sponder said before taking the microphone at 1 Vision’s October 25 ribbon cutting. The company opened September 1, in Salina, and continues to operate in Sioux City, in a hangar one-fourth the size of Big Bertha/Hangar H959. The company also employs 50 there.

Salina Airport in Wichita is situated in the middle of the United States, was a plus for the company.

“I have customers on the east and west coasts, and they enjoy the central location,” Sponder said.

On the day following the ribbon cutting, the boss announced the arrival of a customer from far, far away.

“We just had a plane fly all the way from Argentina for us to work on it,” Sponder said.

Salina’s economic development contingent — the City of Salina, Saline County, Salina Airport Authority, Salina Area Chamber of Commerce and the Salina Community Economic Development Organisation — “rolled out the red carpet the first time I met them, Sponder said. “They really made this happen.”

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, played a role in the process as well, by personally giving Sponder a call early on, and he was at the podium in person in Big Bertha during the late October ceremony — dwarfed by a big jetliners under inspection nearby — to welcome Sponder and his growing team.

“This is a wonderful place to live and work and commit yourself to a quality of life. You have made a great decision,” Moran said. “Your company’s growth is something we will work to make sure happens. We will do everything we can to pursue success with you.”

“The phone has been (ringing) off the hook since I opened these doors,” Sponder said. “I don’t like to say ‘no,’ but I’ve had to a few times.”

1 Vision Aviation are expanding and are recruiting new staff at the new Salina facility.

“We’re hitting up military guys and guys I’ve known in aviation,” he said. “They’ll be here shortly.”

The armed forces are a source for workers, Sponder said, but there are steps involved.

“The military will train you how to work on planes, but won’t give you a license,” Sponder said. “They come in with experience. We evaluate them and help them get a license.”

Included in the plans for hiring a workforce, as the need arises, is the nearby Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus.

“We’ve talked to K-State Polytechnic. A lot of students are going there to get their license, and are working here,” Sponder said. “The school can teach them book stuff. We can teach them what they’re going to do.”

The university is eager to welcome 1 Vision to Salina, said Alysia Starkey, CEO and dean at K-State Poly.

“Universities have a responsibility to help drive economic development in the communities in which they serve,” she said. “Industry partners such as 1 Vision not only expand our potential to offer education and training for community members wanting to seek a career in aviation, but it also provides a pathway to keep students in Salina after graduation as active contributors to the local economy.”

1 Vision gives K-State Poly Students Part-Time Work

Classroom experience is a must, but practical application is priceless as well, said Andrew Smith, professor of aviation at Kansas State University Polytechnic.

Having 1 Vision Aviation just north of campus is an opportunity for aviation program students. At least six landed part-time jobs with 1 Vision. Several more in the professional pilot students are also employed there, Smith said.

“To have an industry partner at Salina Regional Airport, who hires students on a part-time basis, is fantastic for us,” he said.

K-State has been involved in A&P education since 1966.

Working at 1 Vision “reinforces our education and makes what we learn a little better,” said Johnathan Bates, sophomore from Plano, Texas.

“The small, minor details that we put in in class are really put forth at work. You learn hands-on at work, but you learn the same stuff in class as you do there,” said Jalen Krupp, sophomore from Atwood.

Both are in the aviation maintenance program.

Terry Spruce
By Terry Spruce November 4, 2019 14:16

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