YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — It’s National Aviation Day! Top Gun’s flyers have had much popularity recently but what about the brains behind it all?

What better way to celebrate Ohio being the birthplace of aviation than with a graduation ceremony. Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics’ 16-month program prepares mechanics to work on anything that flies, even drones and rockets.

Vienna Campus Director Joe DeRamo spoke about the mechanic’s hands-on training.

“Anything from reciprocating engines to jet turbine engines. We have a wide variety of equipment that students get to work on while they’re here,” said DeRamo.

DeRamo said most of their instructors have worked in the field for over 20 years. Bill Ogle has taught with PIA for 25 years.

“I went to PIA thirty-some years ago. Got my airframe powerplant license, just like these students are doing today,” said Ogle.

Graduate, Bailey Kimmel is heading to Cincinnati to work for a private jet company and said this was all possible because of an open mind.

“Unfortunately, I was a welder before this and my jobs fell through due to COVID, and so I thought this would be a great new opportunity for me to come here and all the new things I could learn,” said Kimmel.

The Beechcraft is one of the planes the students got to work with hands-on. Kimmel said they performed tests like landing gear retraction tests. This is what makes the plane’s wheel go into the plane when it takes off.

Kimmel also had some words of advice for anybody who thinks that this career path might be for them.

“You can do it. Really. I was scared that I couldn’t do it because I had absolutely no idea what anything about planes or cars or anything, and I went here, I did it, I applied myself and now I’m here,” said Kimmel.

Graduate, Garrett Cheesebro is heading to California to work on a special assignment for Boeing.

“There are a bunch of Boeing 787s that were put in preservation because it wasn’t an approved airplane that could fly but they already made a bunch of them. So I’m going to be pulling them out of preservation because they got approved,” said Cheesebro.