LCC students take on sheriff's helicopter

EUGENE, Ore. -- Who says budget cuts are a bad thing? Normally they are, but some Lane Community College aviation students are acually benefiting from cuts at the Lane County Sheriff's Office.

In 2012 they faced buget cuts, and funding was eliminated for the department's helicopter.

Now, LCC aviation student Brett Chaffee is learning from the cream of the crop.

"Having the opportunity to work on a new aircraft is a very rare opportunity, to work on something so new and up to date," he said.

Sgt. Steve French from LCSO said they needed a place to put the aircraft. "Shortly after that funding was eliminated, it was placed into a hangar which was not air-conditioned or insulated, at a small cost to the county," French said.

It stayed there for one year until they came to an agreement with LCC: Students could learn from the helicopter if they took care of it in their hangar, free of charge.

Instructor Larry Stapley said it's a multi-million dollar helicopter that gives students up-to-date, practical experience.

"I believe in it so much because it gives multiple opportunities to expose the students to this helicopter, its systems, its programs," he said.

Chaffee said students being able to learn with newer technology will help them get a jump start on an aviation career. "With the advancements in technology these days, being able to learn on a more modern equipment is gonna be the most beneficial, being able to keep up with the aviation industry," he said.