MIAMI (CBS4) — It is not every day you get something for free but that’s exactly what happened to a South Florida school Thursday courtesy of FedEx. The company gave a multi-million dollar 727 away for free.
With much fan-fare, Miami International Airport welcomed the FedEx plane Thursday afternoon. While FedEx is generally on-time, the 31-year-old plane got caught in bad weather and actually arrived three hours late.
Despite the rain delay, Miami-Dade school principal Sean Gallagaen still smiled.
“It’s amazing when companies are giving away multi-million dollar pieces of equipment to schools, there is nothing else but goose bumps and awe,” Gallagaen told CBS4’s David Sutta.
The plane, one of fifty FedEx has donated around the country will actually sit on a corner of the airport for aviation students at George T. Baker to tinker on.
“It gives these institutions a wonderful training tool, to give the kids in these schools the hands on training experience with a reasonably modern aircraft,” explained FedEx’s David Sutton.
Students from George T. Baker were on hand for the plane’s arrival. They already work on a number of donated planes at the school but this one they will actually fire up.
“We get to experience an actual airplane that works. Other than just classroom stuff, it’s a big deal for us,” said student Eliezer Fleites.
Fleites doesn’t graduate until September but he said he already has job offers.
The airplane donation will help the thousands behind him fill a major gap in the airline industry.
Gallagaen explained, “It’s a national crisis that is happening in aviation that there will not be enough mechanics in the next three to five years.”
At the same time Miami-Dade firefighters will now have something they’ve never had, an actual plane they own to train on.
“We don’t have to worry about scratching it. We don’t have to be able to exercise the doors, move switches. It’s much easier to train on,” said Miami-Dade Fire Chief Jose Herrera.
Once the students are done kicking the tires and checking out the plane it will be about a month or so before they can start using it for real training.
This plane will be a little different then what they have had in the past because it won’t be stagnant. They will actually be able to move it around the airport.