Mohawk College gets big gift: a plane

Mohawk College's two-year Aviation Technician program now boasts a Boeing 727 in its fleet.

The jet at Mohawk was once owned by Leona Helmsley

Mohawk College VP Academic Cheryl Jensen showing her approval from the pilot’s seat Mohawk's new Boeing 727. (Courtesy)

It's like an early Christmas gift that won't fit under any tree.

Mohawk College's two-year Aviation Technician program now boasts a Boeing 727 in its fleet.

The 727 spent most of its life as a private jet. Now, it will serve as a classroom and "living lab" to let students learn and work on heavy jet systems.

"The students are thrilled," said Bill Brimley, the associate dean of Mohawk's School of Aviation.

"When you go through the ramp at Pearson Airport and sit inside this giant cigar, you don't get a sense of just how big it is. It's huge."

Boeing 727 facts

  • The Boeing 727 is a mid-size, narrow body, three-engine jet aircraft built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
  • The first plane entered service in 1964. 
  • A total of 1,832 were built
  • The aircraft could carry between 149 and 189 passengers and was intended for short and medium flights.

British Columbia-based Kelowna Flightcraft donated the plane to the school. It won't actually fly, and its original engines have been removed.

However Air Canada is donating an engine that can be fired up for students to use for practice. Brimley said working on a plane and engine of this scope will be a major undertaking.

Mohawk is believed to be the only Canadian college with a 727. This donation brings their fleet up to 13 planes and one helicopter. All of the aircraft are kept at Hamilton international airport.

"This aircraft is a huge leap forward for Mohawk's Aviation Technician program," said Cheryl Jensen, vice president academic at Mohawk College. "We're very proud to be able to offer our students an experience that few other schools can match, and we're very grateful to Kelowna Flightcraft for giving current and future generations of Mohawk Aviation students access of one of the best classrooms available."

Mohawk's Boeing 727 (on campus they're calling it 'Mohawk One'), entered service with Lufthansa Airlines in 1966.

Mohawk's new Boeing 727. (Courtesy)

They sold it back to Boeing in 1975 and it was converted into a private jet. It was owned by United Technologies Corporation and Geni AC Corporation before it became the private jet for famous New York hotelier Leona Helmsley in 1990. Helmsley owned it until 2001.

While owned by Helmsley, the aircraft was outfitted with an executive interior — including a master suite with a queen-sized bed, a shower and a vanity. Some of this interior can still be seen in the aircraft.

A third-party appraiser valued the plane at about $25,000.

"Well educated and trained Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (AME) are critical to the success of Flightcraft," said Barry Lapointe, President and CEO of Kelowna Flightcraft (an AME himself by training) "We are very happy to be in a position to support Mohawk College with this donation.  We have been in Hamilton for over twenty years now, and expect to be here for at least another twenty."