Scattered clouds

From Football to Flying

By Eric Newman, Arizona Daily Sun Sports Editor

A local aviation company’s had a bit of a Lumberjack flair this summer. Wiseman Aviation, which has serviced aircrafts in Flagstaff for 25 years, hired seven Northern Arizona football players as line service technicians this summer to gain work experience outside of their football obligations.

Throughout the summer months, after practice, the seven Lumberjacks have worked on a variety of projects pertaining to flight in Flagstaff. “I honestly had no idea what to expect. I just knew planes were involved,” linebacker Jhasi Wilson said. He added: “I’ve learned a lot during this experience and I think it’s been pretty cool to see different types of planes.” Orville Wiseman, Wiseman Aviation’s founder and president, started the trend of hiring Lumberjacks players that he hopes will continue.

Wiseman calls himself “as big of an NAU fan as there is in this town.” He graduated from NAU in the ‘80s, met his wife there and had four children attend the school. While not a major fan of athletics, per se, Wiseman and his company have worked alongside the athletics programs, flying Lumberjacks — as well as their opponents coming to Flagstaff — in and out for games. He and football head coach Chris Ball have been friends since Ball joined the NAU staff. Needing summer workers as some students or other employees were away between the semesters — and finding a team with some players eager to make some cash outside of practice and learn a new trade — the pairing seemed perfect.

“It was really exciting,” Wiseman said. “The airport was excited about it, and NAU’s athletic administration was really supportive, so it was just a good way to bring these guys into the community more.” The players-turned-employees do everything from fueling of aircrafts,
cleaning, customer service in the office and more. Wiseman said it normally takes about 90 days to train a new employee, but that the players were fast-tracked and eager to learn in a short period of time.

While their physical prowess has proven a bit of an advantage on long, hot days, Wiseman said he’s been more impressed with the discipline the sport has given the players on the job. “Being big and strong is nice, but it’s not all I need. It’s physical, but more so I needed some good kids who had the work ethic and were able to take instructions well. And I’ve really enjoyed having them this summer, so I’m going to miss them,” he said. There has also been some fun. The Lumberjacks were treated to a few cookouts and experiences they wouldn’t have gotten at many other jobs.

A couple unique moments included being able to park the governor’s airplane and a ride in a private aircraft above Sedona and Humphreys Peak. The Lumberjacks will start official fall practices the first week of August, but Wiseman believes he has gotten the most possible from a great crop of students. “I don’t have any football experience, but I think they’re going to leave here as better teammates on the field and people too,” he said.”