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Allegiant Air trainees get feet wet in Las Vegas Valley — VIDEO

After a life raft floating in water was punctured, flight attendants jumped into action, patching the hole before the raft deflated.

The puncture was an accident and not part of the curriculum Monday at the Heritage Park Aquatic Complex in Henderson, but the mishap is exactly the purpose of the training all Allegiant Air flight attendants go through before being hired.

“They inflated passenger life vests that you’ll find on a commercial aircraft and simulated launching a raft into the water from an aircraft and boarded the raft” said Jay Lee, director of in-flight training, standards and compliance for Las Vegas-based Allegiant. “They also practiced a hypothermia drill, where they practice linking together to conserve body heat, as if they were in an open body of water.”

Aside from the wet exercises the 29 trainees carried out Monday, the 4½-week training course will cover the operation of Allegiant, navigation of an aircraft cabin, customer service and emergency medical training.

“The program is all building blocks,” said Laurie Fortune, Allegiant Air flight attendant instructor. “They learn in class. Then they have their hands-on portions where they put the pieces together.”

Trainees observe real flights onboard twice in the program, once at the start of the course and once at the end, when they put their learning into action. Allegiant holds such courses in the valley six to eight times per year, depending on the need.

Joanna Jung, a theology instructor from Tampa, Florida, initially went to school to become a pilot before she started a family. Her husband, an air traffic controller in Florida, encouraged her to restart her aviation dreams now that their kids are off to college, with one going to school to become an air traffic controller himself.

“I waited until my kids grew. They don’t need me as much anymore, and they’re off to college doing their thing,” Jung said after completing the water ditching exercise. “I decided it was time for Mom now.”

“I just knew I needed to be around people more. As you get older, you get to know more about yourself and what your strengths are, and I like working with people. I’ll still teach on the side, but being a flight attendant is a way to do it on a massive scale, with people of every culture and every walk of life.”

The training enables the 1,200 Allegiant flight attendants to be more than what airline passengers typically see them as: beverage servers. They are expected to be onboard safety officers, ready to handle a variety of in-flight situations.

“Most people who fly on airplanes don’t get an insight to what flight attendants actually go through,” Lee said. “The reason they are onboard the aircraft is for safety. They are trained to evacuate the aircraft in less than 90 seconds. They go through a lot of training to do that, but hopefully they’ll never have to use that.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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