Up, Up and Away: TSTC alum finds career as flight mechanic

Amanda Sotelo, Special to the Star

By Amanda Sotelo, Special to the Star

Isaiah Arizmendi is about to reach new heights with an associate degree from Texas State Technical College and a new career at World Atlantic Airlines.

The 20-year-old graduated in December 2017 and December 2018 with an associate degree in Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology, respectively.

“Aviation is in his blood,” said TSTC Aviation Maintenance instructor Leo Guajardo. “Arizmendi has a quiet confidence and I have seen him grow into a well-rounded student and professional.”

For the Rio Hondo native, his journey took flight at TSTC while a junior at Rio Hondo High School and a dual enrollment student.

And with an uncle and cousin in the field, a passion for aviation and working with his hands, as well as, a recommendation from his high school counselor, Arizmendi knew aviation maintenance at TSTC was the path he was supposed to follow.

“Never did I imagine I would have a career at 20,” said Arizmendi. “It’s because of dual enrollment and TSTC that I was able to get ahead.”

Arizmendi was bussed to TSTC every day, even with a broken collar bone from a sport injury, until he graduated from high school in 2016.

He said he left high school with confidence and peace of mind because he knew he was off to finish what he started.

“I had already come this far, so I planned on earning my degree,” he said. “And unlike many students in a senior class, I graduated with ease because I knew where I was going and what I was going to do.”

He said the training he received at TSTC fully prepared him to obtain his Federal Aviation Administration airframe and powerplant licenses, both required to work in the industry.

The exams for the licenses are a three-part tests that includes written, oral and application.

Arizmendi said he went into the testing room with assurance and fully prepared thanks to his instructors.

“All of my instructors were great and they made my TSTC experience a positive one,” said Arizmendi. “They’re so full of knowledge and ready to help. They kept me moving forward. Really, they keep all of their students going.”

Going and going, until they snag a position like Arizmendi’s at World Atlantic Airlines in Brownsville, or other aviation facilities across the Rio Grande Valley and statewide.

Arizmendi said he is looking forward to his new-found career as a flight mechanic, meaning he will be accompanying the pilots in the planes he repairs and maintains.

In about one week, he will have the opportunity travel the United States and abroad with this position.

“I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to travel and see new places,” he said. “But with this position comes great responsibility and I’m ready to tackle what comes my way.”

Included with the benefits of travel, he will also receive a full benefits package and competitive salary.

“There is no doubt that Arizmendi will achieve in this position,” said Guajardo. “I’m so proud of the aviation professional he has become and my wish for him is that he continues moving up.”

A wish Guajardo has for all of his students in an industry where the demand for aviation mechanics is increasing at a fast rate.

According to a Boeing pilot and technician outlook report, more than 754,000 new maintenance technicians will be needed to maintain the world fleet over the next 20 years.

“The demand in our field isn’t spoken about a lot. It’s often overlooked,” said Guajardo. “It’s a demanding career, but a rewarding one. Just ask any of our graduates; that number is also increasing.”

As for Arizmendi, he said he recommends the airframe and powerplant programs to anyone with an interest in aviation, and TSTC in general.

“TSTC changed my life drastically,” said Arizmendi. “They connect people to opportunities and provide the resources necessary for success.”

Aircraft Airframe and Powerplant Technology is also offered at TSTC’s Abilene and Waco campuses, with a certificate and associate degree track.

For more information, visit tstc.edu.