The Georgia State Patrol (GSP) Aviation Unit has chosen Coosa Valley Technical College (CVTC)’s new Aviation Maintenance (AMT) program to restore one of the division’s aircraft. CVTC’s AMT program, that began the inaugural class in October, will refurbish the paint and interior of the twin-engine Cessna. The project will take approximately one year to complete.

The aircraft will be a learning tool for the students to use in conjunction with their classes and laboratory training. GSP is purchasing the supplies and Coosa Valley Technical College’s students will be doing the labor.

“Lt. Greg Mercier, Chief Pilot, Georgia State Patrol, contacted me to see if we would be interested in taking on the restoration project,” stated Jon Byrd, CVTC’s AMT Program Director/Instructor. “Lt. Mercier was referred to CVTC by Adon Clark Jr, Aviation Maintenance Technology Program Chair at Middle Georgia College in Eastman. GSP’s Aviation base is at Cobb County Airport- McCollum Field in Kennesaw; much closer proximity to CVTC than Eastman.” The decision to use CVTC was based on the college being able to work on the aircraft and use it as a learning tool immediately, rather than a several month delay before Middle Georgia would be able to take on the project.

Col. Bill Hitchens, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said the partnership between the Georgia State Patrol Aviation Unit and Coosa Valley Technical College is mutually beneficial to all. “When this project is finished, the Georgia State Patrol will have gained an additional aircraft for our fleet at a minimum cost to refurbish, and the students who performed the work will have gained valuable experience that will benefit them as they move into the workplace,” he said.

The Georgia State Patrol Aviation Unit provides air support to the Georgia State Patrol and other state, federal, and local agencies in support of public safety interest for the citizens of Georgia. Currently, the Aviation unit is comprised of 14 helicopters that are located at six hangars throughout the State. The operation locations are in Kennesaw, Thomson, Athens, Albany, Reidsville, and Perry.

The Aviation Unit performs search and rescue missions utilizing FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) camera systems and Night Vision Goggles. Many missing persons and criminals have been located using this technology. Other services include: manhunts, transportation of state officials, aerial photography, aerial surveillance, natural disasters, SWAT missions, forest fires, and static displays at high schools, colleges, civic groups, local law enforcement agencies, air shows, and churches.

Calhoun Times