Ken Gidlow

Ken Gidlow began his transportation career at Spartan School of Aeronautics and then procured his FAA Certification as an Airframe & Power plant Mechanic. Ken was able to work on B727 & DC-10 aircraft and then as a Reliability Engineer on the NASA Space Shuttle External Fuel Tanks design and manufacturing contract in New Orleans.

Today, Ken Gidlow is an Aerospace Engineer/Technical Advisor for the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation stationed at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) Houston. Ken coordinates FAA Certification with the NASA Commercial Resupply Services contracts for SpaceX, Orbital-ATK and Sierra Nevada Corp delivering cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS).

I just love flight, it just amazes me. Whether it's airplanes, rockets, everything that flies. How heavy it is – how many things that it has to haul for such great distances – and it just flies so gracefully, it gets the job done. I'm still like a kid every time I fly and look out the window.

Hello, I'm Ken Gidlow. I work for the FAA office of Commercial Space Transportation as an aerospace engineer and a technical adviser at NASA Johnson Space Center. I'm from Mamou, Louisiana. A little Cajun town deep in south Louisiana.

Spartan offered a good A&P program that I researched quite a bit when I was in high school. And I ultimately wanted to be a flight engineer, perhaps on a 747, but I needed to work my way through college as an A&P mechanic – and Spartan was the best choice.

So I’m a graduate of 1975 as an A&P mechanic on here too, and at the time the airline industries were really great. I got some super jobs with them. Worked on 727s just like the one here too and dc-10's. It was really great, and all the mergers were going on after the airline deregulation act, so I saw that I needed to jump into aerospace at the time. So, I went to work back in New Orleans, on the Space Shuttle external fuel tank, manufacturing that. There as a reliability engineer because I had enough technical experience at the time and education to qualify as an engineer. And that's when I jumped into aerospace and eventually it morphed into what I'm doing now – working with the latest. Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic planes, Elon Musk's SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

It’s really tremendous, so you never know just how far your career can go, Spartan is an excellent start.
This is a really great time for it now because it's not just a traditional aviation- aerospace, commercial space transportation’s really taken off now. With the composite aircraft that's now starting to outpace the aluminum airframes on there. With the rocket engine technology that's allowing suborbital tourism and all that. The same skills that are needed for an A&P in aviation or needed in aerospace also.

Coming back to Spartan, it's like a homecoming on here too. I'm seeing some of the mock-ups, test stands, that I experienced much younger, and I see there are even newer, better mock-ups on here too. So, it properly prepares the students here with so much hands-on experience: three hours of shop, three hours of classroom on there. You're really prepared when you come out of here.
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