A group of about 200 schoolchildren, teachers, local officials and aviation buffs gathered to watch a Boeing 727 aircraft make its final landing at Lakeland Linder airport's Sun 'n Fun campus Friday.
Fed Ex donated the airplane to the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, an aviation-oriented high school and career academy located at the campus of the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland. The academy's drum line played at the event.
John Small, senior director of workforce education for Polk County schools, said Fed Ex officials were inspired to make the gift after touring the academy:
"We built this program to help an industry that's going to have a shortage of workforce and to provide opportunity for our kids, " Small said. "I think we have the best children in the world, and when people come and visit our school, they fall in love with those kids just like we do, and they want to help us."
Although the plane won't fly again, the students will use it for training on aircraft electronics programs. Small said students can graduate from the aerospace academy with a pilots licenses and aircraft mechanics certification.
The 727 was several hours late in landing, due to frigid weather in its home base of Indianapolis. It's the 62nd plane that Fed Ex has donated for education since 2000.