SGTC Aviation Maintenance alumnus enrolls son in same program
Twenty-three years ago, Dale Deno enrolled in the South Georgia Technical College Aviation Maintenance program right out of high school. He graduated in 2001 and earned his Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) license. He has been employed with Lockheed Aeronautics in Marietta, Ga, for nearly 20 years now and is proud to announce that his son, Carlos, is following in his footsteps and enrolling in the same program this fall.
“I highly recommend South Georgia Technical College for anyone pursuing a career in the aviation field,” said Deno. “In fact, I guess I did since my son is enrolling this fall right out of high school, just like me. As far as I am concerned South Georgia Technical College was and is the best Aviation Maintenance program in the nation and I am a very proud alumnus.”
Deno also shared that there are a lot of great job opportunities in aviation maintenance for people with the right skill sets. “Aviation is a great career field and it has blessed me and my family. I also enjoy what I do. I have no regrets whatsoever about my direction in life. Right now, I am about to hit my 20th anniversary at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. I would have never imagined working for the same company this long, but I am very blessed and SGTC has very much to do with that,” said Deno.
“I feel like I had the best instructors I could ask for at South Georgia Tech,” continued Deno. “They all had a very extensive aviation background with years of experience.” Deno mentioned Mr. Adams, Jerry Pope, Tom Lloyd, Mike Cochran, and Mike Reaves as the instructors who meant the most to him during his two-years at South Georgia Tech.
“My instructors really cared about you as an individual and you could tell they really wanted you to learn and understand what was being taught. They wanted everyone to successfully graduate from the program,” said Deno.
Deno said he chose South Georgia Technical College because his dad was in the air force for 20 years and always worked on aircraft. After his dad retired from the military, he worked at Northwest Airlines in Atlanta. “When I was in high school, I saw his paychecks and I knew right then I wanted a great paying job and to be successful like him. One evening my parents had their good friends, Jeff and Karen Ross, over and the conversation came up. They mentioned they knew a very good technical college that is known for its aviation program. They believed it was the best in the state if not the best in the nation.”
After a little research and a visit to the campus in Americus, less than three hours from Atlanta, Deno felt like it would be a great fit for him. “I have so many good memories of my time at South Georgia Tech. I will never forget when we had to take apart an 0-200 Continental engine and rebuild it. I managed to get the magneto timing down and when we put it on the test stand to crank her up, she started right up and was running great. That was when I was like ‘wow, this is for me.’ That test also gave me lots of motivation and confidence.”
The one memory from SGTC that wasn’t so good was when 9/11 happened. “I was in class when 9/11 happened and we saw the second airplane hit the Trade Center live. I was about to start my oral and practical test for my airframe license. Taking all of that in during class and then seeing all those people lose their lives was traumatic. Also, not knowing at that time if aviation would ever rebound was as real as it gets,” said Deno.
After Deno graduated, the airlines weren’t hiring and were laying people off. “I was already working at Southerfield Aviation in Americus directly behind the college on a co-op program, so I just decided to stay in Americus and get some more experience and work full-time there.”
Deno’s boss was Frankie Williams and his lead man was Paul Pearson, who has since joined SGTC as an instructor. “Both Frankie and Paul had an extensive aviation background and were very helpful in my career. They guided me through my experiences in general aviation. I really enjoyed my time at Souther Field Aviation. “
During the two years he lived and attended SGTC, Deno said he “learned so much in the aviation maintenance career and even took an extra sheet metal class while enrolled in the aviation maintenance program. All of those experiences landed me a job at Lockheed Martin in Marietta, Ga.
“When I went for my interview and they saw my background and when I graduated college from and that I had my Airframe and Powerplant licenses as well as my FCC license and with a fresh background in sheet metal, they said I was exactly what they were looking for and they hired me on the spot.”
He started working at Lockheed Martin in July 2002 as a 606 Structural Mechanic on the F22. Two years later he was promoted to the flight line as a Flight Line Mechanic. He worked on the F22 Stealth for 10 years, the C-5M Galaxy for five years and now is currently working on the C-130J.
“I definitely think there will always be a demand for A&P certified technicians as airplanes will always have to be maintained whether you are in general aviation or the corporate world,” said Deno. “Today there is a very high need for licensed mechanics and the starting average salary is around $80,000.” Deno added that Lockheed Aeronautics is currently hiring licensed A & P mechanics.
“I would tell anyone that your A & P License is basically a license to learn,” said Deno. “Every company has their own way of doing things and once you are hired, you will learn the way that specific company wants you to learn.”
Deno feels so confident about his choice of career and college that he encouraged his son to follow in his footsteps. Deno and his wife, Ana, have three children, Ashley, Joanna, and Carlos. They reside in Marietta, GA, down the street from his parents, Linda and Randy Deno and his sister Kelly and Ronnie Ellis and his nephews, Aaron and Austin.
“I feel blessed. I thank my mom and dad who pushed me and made me the man I am today and of course, I thank SGTC and all my instructors,” said Deno.
Deno lived on campus in Martin Hall. South Georgia Technical College is one of only two technical colleges in Georgia with on-campus housing and is the only aviation maintenance technical college in Georgia with on-campus housing. SGTC was also selected as the top community college in Georgia for the past three years by niche.com.
For more information about the over 200 associate degree, diploma, or technical certificate of credit educational programs available at South Georgia Technical College, visit the website at www.southgatech.edu. Or contact the admissions office at 229-931-2394. SGTC is currently accepting applications for summer and fall semester. Summer semester begins May 25th and fall semester starts August 18th. Financial aid is available.