- Cherry Creek School District No. 5
Cherry Creek Innovation Campus adds Learjet to fleet of classroom aircraft
It’s unusual for students to be at school on a Sunday morning, but Ian Limburg and Zachery Hennigan arrived at the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus (CCIC) before 7 a.m. on Sept. 19 to observe something special.
“It was super exhilarating to witness the arrival of our aviation department's new Learjet!” said Limburg, a senior at Cherry Creek Elevation who is taking classes in aviation at CCIC.
CCIC is a state-of-the-art, college-and-career-focused facility that opened in 2019. It serves 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade students from across the Cherry Creek School District, providing them with transformative educational experiences and real-world, hands-on learning. Students can take classes and earn industry certifications in seven career pathways: Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, Health & Wellness, Hospitality & Tourism, Infrastructure Engineering, IT & Steam and Transportation, which includes Automotive Technology as well as Aviation Maintenance and Aviation Flight.
Limburg, Hennigan other CCIC students and their families and CCIC staff members were on hand as a Learjet 35 was towed to CCIC from Haggan Aviation at Centennial Airport. The three-mile journey along city streets took about 45 minutes.
“The excitement was palpable,” CCIC Principal Steve Day said. “The students were so excited to see the plane coming down here. They were excited to climb inside and see the mechanics of it. They would have started class right there, on Sunday morning at 8 o’clock, if they could have.”
Instead, the students had to wait until Monday to officially start learning about the school’s first jet plane. The Learjet joins the school’s fleet of four propellor aircraft and one helicopter. The Learjet is no longer airworthy, and the engines and some systems have been removed, but it is still an extremely valuable learning and teaching tool.
“It opens up a whole other part of airframe and powerplant education,” Day said. “Our students are really going to be able to take their learning to the next level as a result of having this jet.”
“I hope to learn many things from this jet,” said Hennigan, who is a senior at Eaglecrest High School. “I'm looking forward to mending and installing the wings. It would be a dream come true if we got our hands on some compatible engines that we could learn to install.”
In fact, CCIC is searching for engines for the plane so that students can learn to build and repair them.
“The mechanics are so different for a jet plane compared to a propellor plane,” Principal Day said. “It’s a different world for them with jet propulsion in terms of learning.”
Both Limburg and Hennigan plan to pursue careers in aviation. Limburg wants to earn all three of the main aviation qualifications – general, airframe and powerplant – before heading to college and then on to a career within the commercial or private aircraft industry. Hennigan plans to finish all of his FAA hours and get his airframe and powerplant certificates before heading straight into the workforce.
“I know it will be a lot of hard work and commitment to try and get as much done as possible during my senior year, but I am up for the challenge,” Hennigan said.
Both students are grateful for the experiences and instructors they’ve had at CCIC. Steve Day is grateful for CCIC’s industry partners, companies such as Haggan Aviation, that support the school with donations of equipment or materials and offer internships and apprenticeships to CCIC students.
“We can’t do what we do without our industry partners. Haggan Aviation is a great example,” Day said. “Haggan is a generous donor that is helping us make learning as authentic as possible.”