By: Noa Brown
Over this summer, I had the absolute pleasure of being one of two American students to intern at Daher.
Daher is the manufacturer of a single engine, turboprop business airplane known as the TBM and also fabricates parts and sub-assemblies for larger companies such as Airbus and Dassault. Daher is based in Tarbes, Hautes-Pyrenees, France.
Every year, Daher and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) host the Young Eagles Internship program.
I was one of two students to be accepted into the program this year. Daher sent me to France to work in the Daher Factory for five weeks.
Following the fifth week, I was sent to Oshkosh to help the company booth at the EAA Air Ventures.
I arrived in France on June 18. That was also when I met the other intern, Riley.
Riley is a pre-med student who has an equal passion for aviation and medicine.
She attends Vanderbilt University where she started a whole aviation club on campus that gives introductory flights to students.
Upon arrival we were given a rental car to share for our time in France. We were then brought to a student housing facility that was part of a local technical university in Tarbes. That was where we were going to live for our time in France.
While in France, Riley and I worked under our own mentors who each assigned us a project related to our studies.
Riley’s project was to make an informational video for Daher aircraft owners about recognizing and treating hypoxia in the case of aircraft cabin depressurization.
As an aerospace engineering major, my project was to research companies developing electric propulsion aircraft.
For my project, I was required to use the specifications of the aircraft I researched and my engineering textbooks to justify the published maximum takeoff weight of the airplanes.
To cut to the chase, I found that the weights the companies were advertising were super optimistic.
The technology for an electric airliner will probably not exist for another ten years.
The office environment was very different from the United States.
What stood out in my mind the most was that I was obliged to shake the hand of every man and kiss both cheeks of every woman in the whole office at the start of each day.
I personally liked greeting every person each morning. Though it took several minutes before I could start working, I felt that getting the acknowledgement from everyone in the office was very uplifting.
Another big difference between working jobs in the United States versus France were the breaks.
We would take 15 to 20-minute mid-morning coffee breaks every day. Our lunch breaks would be well over an hour which was about twice the time I was used to having.
The extra time really allowed me time to eat slowly and to socialize with the other French interns and employees.
Tarbes is extremely different from most of the large European cities American tourists are used to.
It was very slow-paced with only a few nice places to hang out. Due to the non-existent flow of tourists in the city, the English speakers were few and far between downtown.
Thankfully, I had studied French for three years in high school and had been practicing with Duolingo leading up to the internship, so I was not completely lost!
I had loads of free time after work and during the weekends, and I certainly made the most of it! Several nights per week I would hang out with the other interns for drinks, movies, or dinner.
During the weekends I took the rental car on road trips discovering different parts of France and even venturing into Spain at one point!
The amount of aviation exposure I had was phenomenal. While I was in France, I toured the Airbus factory, visited some aviation museums and even got some flight experience!
My mentor one week flew me over the Pyrenees Mountains. I also got introductory flights in a sailplane and a paraglider.
Towards the end of my internship, I co-starred with Riley in one of the videos on Daher’s YouTube channel, “Daher TBM.”
In that video we reflected on our experiences in France. A lot of the footage we took during our travels was used in the video as well.
During the last week of my internship, Riley and I were sent to Oshkosh to help Daher run its company booth at the EAA Air Ventures.
At Oshkosh, I got to meet so many new people involved in aviation, many of whom were TBM owners.
They were all such fascinating people with a vast range of backgrounds from all over the world.
My time at Oshkosh really broadened my knowledge and appreciation of aviation history.
My internship was an immersive experience, both culturally and academically.
Living in a different country for a month, I learned a lot about French culture and language and made several lasting friendships.
I also had a very engaging project that taught me about the aviation industry and new developments in electric aircraft.
I got aviation exposure that I had only dreamed of having before.
To find out more about my time in France, visit my blog at [https://noalevoyageur.blogspot.com/].
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