A MCCTC student flies planes on weekends, and dreams of someday flying in space

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By Samantha Phillips



When Joseph Virostek was a child, he would watch airplanes zoom through the sky and wonder how it feels to fly.

Now, the senior student flies planes on the weekends with an instructor from the T&G Flying Club and will soon graduate with an Airframe and Powerplant certificate from the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center’s aviation maintenance program.

The certificate is for airplane mechanics.

Virostek said he “wants to get involved in more space programs,” and ultimately become an astronaut.

He aims to learn everything he can about aircraft.

Virostek plans to attend the University of Hawaii Maui College to earn an associate’s degree in aerospace engineering, then the University of Hawaii Hilo College to earn a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics and astronomy.

“I’m getting all that education, and then I want to go to the Air Force after that and enlist as an officer, because you need to log 1,500 jet hours, have a degree in applied science and have NASA training to be an astronaut,” he said. “Even if I don’t get accepted, I want to get the requirements to do it, just so I can say I tried.”

“I want to learn the basic formulas and calculations they use to send aircraft up in space, same thing with NASA’s satellites they have, and I want to learn how to repair those just to have the extra knowledge,” he added.

As a 3-year-old, Virostek said he was fascinated by space and aircraft, and told his grandparents he wanted to fly planes.

He started taking pilot license classes when he turned 12 at the Salem Airpark.

“The first day I flew a plane, I was 13,” he said. “I was thrilled, I wasn’t nervous at all. It just felt like something I had to do. It was like a dream come true.”

Five years of classes later, he switched to the T&G Flying Club at the Youngstown Regional Airport, where he earned a student pilot license. He is taking classes to receive his private pilot’s license, which takes about 40 hours of classes and flight time. Overall, he has about 101 flight hours logged.

Scott Rowe, aviation maintenance teacher, said students would pay around $30,000 for the program if they went to a private aeronautics school, but only pay lab fees at MCCTC.

“I’m really excited to see Joe not only involved in getting his A&P here... it’s awesome he is continuing outside of here in the flying aspect. All of that is going to make him a better pilot and mechanic. I really like his enthusiasm in the field,” he said.

Students who graduate from the program are working at airline industries all over the country, including American Airlines, Delta and Boeing, Rowe said.

Virostek said he is grateful that his grandparents supported him and his goals. If he doesn’t become an astronaut, he said he has back-up plans, including becoming a bush pilot.

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