SPC President Receives Donation of Aircraft

September 7, 2022

SPC Marketing & Strategic Communications

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St. Philip’s College President Dr. Adena Williams Loston got a big surprise during a recent live interview on Daytime with Kimberly & Esteban. San Antonio businessman Dick Tips gifted the college an aircraft.

Tips explained that the idea came to him while he was touring the Southwest Campus. The son of an aircraft mechanic, he was excited to see the facility where students learn to be aircraft mechanics and technicians. “I noticed all the different things going on, but they needed a little bit of an upgrade,” he said.

The gift from Tips and his wife, Kristin, a Gulfstream G-159, is valued at approximately $1.8 million. Manufactured by Grumman Aerospace Corporation, the aircraft will provide SPC students opportunities to work on a Rolls Royce turboprop jet motors that produce 2185 horsepower each, along with a wide range of other commercial aircraft systems that are incorporated into the G-159.

“These guys are going to be overwhelmed,” Dr. Loston said during the interview. “We’ve never been given a plane before!”

The G-159 was the first twin engine turboprop commercial aircraft to be certified to operate at 33,000 feet. It was an international success and popularly used by NASA and its most-famous owner, Walt Disney. The Walt Disney Corporation still maintains Walt's G-159, called “The Mouse,” at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

The Gulfstream is a twin-engine, medium-range, turboprop-powered executive transport designed as a monoplane with cantilever, low straight wings, a swept vertical stabilizer and straight horizontal stabilizers. The aircraft employs a retractable tricycle landing gear system with two wheels on each unit. An airstair-type entrance door is located on the port side of the fuselage, forward of the wing.

G1 is powered by two Rolls-Royce Dart Mk 529-8X or -8E turboprop engines rated at 2,110shp each, driving four-blade, constant speed, full-feathering Rotol propellers.

Another important design feature that contributed to its success was an auxiliary power unit, which allowed for independent operation from remote airstrips and also provided ground power for air conditioning and other systems prior to engine start.

“The systems listed in specifications are what we teach in our program,” said Larry Canion, SPC Aviation Program Coordinator. “We will use the airplane to teach systems, such as the monoplane fuselage, and cantilevered wings. The landing gear system will be used to teach servicing and inspection.”

“It was a pressurized airplane. This is one of the systems we teach called environmental systems. None of our other aircraft have that so it is a plus. We have turbo-prop engines for training but none that run. This aircraft also has reversable propellers. Again, a plus! We teach this, but this would be a functional trainer. It is a self-contained tubine engine that can power the airplane no matter where it is. The uses for this type of aircraft are endless. It will fit very nicely in our program,” Canion explained.

“We teach them from basic skills – never touched an airplane – all the way up to being able to do sheet metal work and being able to take an engine apart,” Canion said.

St. Philip’s College Aircraft Technology program offers degrees and certificates for students seeking the Federal Aviation Administration Airframe and Powerplant licensure. The Aircraft Program is accredited by the FAA and is also the only provider of customized instruction for the aerospace industry in San Antonio. 

“Their future is endless,” Canion said. “We ask students: Do you want to work on helicopters, small airplanes, commercial aircraft, jets? It’s endless what you can do. The industry is booming right now.”

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St. Philip’s President Dr. Adena Williams Loston, shown here with John Haral, department chair and Randall Dawson, VP for Academic Success and a photo of the Gulfstream G-159, soon to be delivered to SPC Southwest Campus.