Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College


View all Aviation Maintenance Technology faculty.

Thomas Laxson

Tom LaxsonThomas Laxson is the faculty department chair, and began his career in aviation by enrolling in the Aviation Maintenance Technology program at PCC in 2000. After graduating from PCC with Airframe and Powerplant certifications, and an Associates of Applied Science Degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology, he enrolled at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

His first job in aviation was as a helicopter mechanic for a small aerial spraying company, based in Salem, OR. After six months in that position, he accepted a position at Horizon Air (Portland) as an aircraft technician. While at Horizon, Thomas graduated from Embry-Riddle with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree, majoring in Professional Aeronautics.

After specializing on Bombardier CRJ aircraft, Thomas accepted a position in the Maintenance Training Department of Horizon Air. In 2009, he left Horizon and joined Flightline Training Services, based in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. There he worked at a CRJ SME/Technical Instructor and a courseware developer. Working for Flightline, Thomas delivered aircraft technical courses in countries of North America, Europe, and Africa. He has also developed technical training courses for an array of commercial aircraft, such as Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, Cessna, LearJet, and Dornier.

In April of 2015, Thomas began teaching courses at PCC.

Michael Fogarty

Michael FogartyMike Fogarty has been a certificated technician since 1983. He completed his Airframe studies here at PCC in 1980-81. He enrolled at University of Alaska, Anchorage in 1982 and completed his Powerplant studies in spring of 1983. Mike crewed helicopters in Alaska in 1983 & 1984. He hired on at Horizon Air in Portland in late 1984. In 28 years at Horizon, Mike worked in the engine shop, line maintenance, heavy check maintenance, Quality Control, Turboprop Tech office, and finally as a Maintenance Controller. Mike was a part-time Instructor in the AMT program at PCC from 2013 -2015, leaving to work for Aerometal International and then Columbia Helicopters before returning to PCC in his present role as an Instructional Support Technician.

Robert Frasco

Robert FrascoBob Frasco has provided organizational support to the PCC AMT program since 1994 as an Instructional Support Technician and as an Adjunct Faculty member. Before arriving at PCC, he was a manager for a Fortune 100 manufacturing company and owned a successful business in residential real estate development. Bob retired from the Oregon Army National Guard after 35 years of service repairing U.S. Army aircraft, performing aircraft maintenance technical inspection, and restoring/maintaining artifacts for the Oregon Military Museum. He holds an FAA Private Pilot – Glider certificate and an FAA Airframe and Powerplant certificate along with an AAS in Aviation Maintenance Technology from PCC.

Don Ganschow

Don GanschowDon Ganschow grew up in Palo Alto, CA and began his love of engines and aircraft at the age of 11 when he rebuilt a lawn mower engine on a minibike. He started flying lessons using his paper route money when he was 15 and logged 11 hours flying in an Aeronca Champ that had to be hand-propped to start. In high school he developed into a shade-tree mechanic working on his own and friends’ cars including engine rebuilds. After a 20 year career in international electronics and manufacturing at 50 years old he got a 1946 Stinson project plane from a cousin and had so much fun building it he changed careers, got his A&P mechanic certificates, and became an aircraft mechanic.

Soon after he was asked to return to his AMT school at City College of San Francisco and teach AMT classes which he did for 5 years. He also taught AMT classes at Gavilan College in Gilroy, CA for 1 year. During this timeframe he continued to work in general aviation as an A&P mechanic working on various aircraft makes and models including WW2 military training aircraft and radial engines.

Don has continued his career in aviation education by getting an Inspection Authorization, Robinson Helicopter factory training, Cessna maintenance training, and Lycoming Engine factory training.

Don has a BA in Communications from Brigham Young University and speaks fluent Japanese. He continues to do flight training and working on restoring his plane where he lives in Sandy, OR. Don joined PCC AMT department as an instructor in September 2021.

Jeffrey Kortis

Contact Jeffrey Kortis.

Marshall Pryor

marshall pryorA graduate of PCC’s AMT program, Marshall Pryor began his aviation maintenance career working as a mechanic for the Blue Skies Flying Club at the Troutdale airport in 1977. Later, his skills were expressed in several large FBOs throughout NW Oregon and the Tri-Cities area of Washington state. He gained experience as both a General Aviation aircraft mechanic and a commercial pilot and flight instructor. From 1983 through 1987 Marshall and his family were stationed in central Africa, where he was a pilot-mechanic, providing air service for remote areas of NE Democratic Republic of Congo.

Marshall returned to the AMT program in 1987 first as an Instructional Support Technician and then in two years to filling in as a temporary FT AMT instructor. Following six years working in his family’s local manufacturing business, Marshall was drawn back to teaching part-time with the AMT program in 2000, teaching full time since the fall of 2006. He retired from full time employment in January of 2021.

Marshall teaches various courses throughout the AMT program. He holds an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic certificate and is one of two Designated Mechanic Examiners associated with the program. Marshall also holds a Commercial pilot certificate with an Instrument rating and a Certified Flight Instructor – ASEL.

Anders Rasmussen

Anders RasmussenAnders Rasmussen grew up in Central Wisconsin, less than 2 hours from Oshkosh, home of the EAA AirVenture fly-in, which he attended with his father, a certified aircraft mechanic and private pilot. In high school, he became interested in pursuing aviation as a career.

Anders received his FAA Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic certification and Associate’s degree from Spokane Community College in 2005. He went on to receive a Commercial Pilot and Advanced Ground Instructor certifications while working towards a Bachelor of Science degree from Moody Aviation, which he received in 2008. During this time, he also assisted in the restoration of an antique mail-carrier biplane (the Boeing 40C).

After graduation, Anders moved to the Portland area for a job with a local aviation company. He served in a number of roles, varying from line maintenance, inspections, Robinson helicopter overhaul, and facility lead technician. In 2011, Anders received his FAA Inspection Authorization (IA). Anders also volunteered a significant amount of time working with international students and refugees, both in the community and through a local non-profit.

In 2012, Anders and his family moved to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he served as the Director of projects at a non-profit aid and development organization for a year. After returning to the States and taking a TESOL Certification course, Anders and his wife decided to remain due to the deteriorating security conditions in Kabul.

Anders’s aviation background and affinity for the Pacific Northwest led him to begin teaching courses at PCC in the Fall of 2014, which was a natural fit with his education and training, love of teaching, and passion for helping people develop their potential.

Nathan Rieben

Nathan RiebenContact Nathan Rieben

A native Oregonian, Nathan was born in rainy Astoria not 500 feet from the mighty Columbia River. His family roots in Oregon go back well into the 19th century and he sees no reason to change that tradition. Nathan became interested in pursuing a career in aviation in high-school in connection with a desire to enter the U.S. Coast Guard. After learning of the many unique advantages offered by rotor wing in mission work, Nathan began taking helicopter flight lessons at McMinnville but quickly exhausted his funds! At the advice of an aviation professional and friend, he took up maintenance as a round-about way to off-set the high costs of rotor wing flight instruction. Shortly after high-school, Nathan entered the Rock Creek AMT program graduating with an AAS, majoring in Aviation Maintenance.

Since graduation, Nathan has enjoyed a multifaceted career around the Pacific Northwest. Nathan’s first job was in Bend, OR working for Leading Edge Aviation on the R-22 and R-44 helicopters and the flight school’s many fixed wing aircraft. Later, his experience would become specifically structures oriented working at Metal Innovations. While employed at Metal Innovations, Nathan contracted heavy structural work to Columbia helicopter, Peninsula Air, Horizon, FedEx, Atlantic, Ravn and Everetts Air Cargo in Fairbanks, AK. Additionally, Nathan specialized in building tail rotor blades for Helicopter Transport Services S-64 aircrane. Getting his IA certificate in 2017, Nathan went to work for Willamette Aviation’s fixed wing flight school as the director of maintenance and training supervisor. Later, Nathan would work for Life Flight Network where he was responsible for maintaining aircraft from Cottage Grove, OR to Port Angeles, WA.

Most recently, Nathan worked at Areo-Metal International specializing in heavy structural fabrication on pre-WWII vintage aircraft. While there, he contracted for both Wright Air-motive and Planes of Fame in Chino, CA. His technical experience is highly varied having worked in part 91 and 141 on small GA aircraft as well as part 135 operations utilizing helicopters, jets and
turbine powered aircraft. Despite his tryst with fixed wing, Nathan’s first love has always been the helicopter and he is excited to bring his passion for rotor-craft to aspiring technicians. Nathan has worked on helicopters ranging from the diminutive R-22 to the heavy lift Boeings and Sikorskys. Nathan is currently a certificated A&P, IA and student pilot in both rotor and fixed
wing aircraft.

In his free time, Nathan enjoys reading, working on his vintage cabin boat, hunting, reading, fixing electrical equipment and studying the rich maritime history of the Pacific North-West. He’s also active at church and plays several musical instruments in addition to providing sound re-enforcement for live venues as often as time allows. HiFi audio equipment, particularly vintage, is one of his passions and when he’s not instructing, you’ll likely find him with an oscilloscope and an old amplifier to repair.

Eric Vangsnes

Eric VangsnesContact Eric Vangsnes.

Growing up in Eugene, Oregon, Eric spent a lot of his time working on the family vehicles with his father. While in High School, he overhauled the engine in his first car. Realizing he enjoyed that kind of work, he continued to take Auto Shop classes throughout High School, assisting many other students in overhauling engines from their cars.

Shortly after graduating High School, Eric joined the U.S. Air Force and servered for a total of 22 years. The first 9 years he worked as an Aerospace Propulsion Maintenance Technician (Jet Engine Mechanic). The remaining 13 years he worked as a Tactical Aircraft Maintenance Technician (Crew Chief) on the F-15E. During his time as a Crew Chief, he spent 3 ½ years as an F-15E Maintenance Instructor and received two AAS degrees. One in Aviation Maintenance Technology and the other in Instructor of Technology and Military Sciences.

Using the years of experience he had in aircraft maintenance, Eric received permission to test from the local FSDO in North Carolina, and was awarded his FAA Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic certificate in 2000, shortly before retiring from the U.S. Air Force.

After retiring from the U.S. Air Force, he spent the next 19 ½ years’ working for Columbia Helicopters Inc. in their Engine/Accessories department. Overhauling components for the General Electric CT-58 Turboshaft engine (used in the CHI Model 107 aircraft) and the Honeywell AL5512 Turboshaft engine (used in the CHI Model 234 aircraft).

Eric began teaching at PCC in the Fall of 2022. He brings over 40 years of aviation maintenance experience to the program.