GLENVILLE – A new hangar at Schenectady County Airport will open up opportunities for aviation students, as well as the enrolled SUNY Schenectady program.
Students, school administrators and others came together on Wednesday for a ceremonial inauguration of the new Flex Pod Hangar, which is being built with a state grant from the county.
The hanger will be divided into four bins, two of which are occupied by the university’s Aviation Science programs, one for classroom space and the other for aircraft storage. Completion is scheduled for the end of October 2022.
“This hangar will really allow us to expand the program,” SUNY Schenectady President Steady Moono said. “This program is one of the fastest growing programs in college.”
There are currently two runways at the university, pilot and non-pilot, both of which lead to science degrees and both are prepared for the transition to undergraduate courses at other institutes. There is also an undergraduate air traffic control program.
With the extra space, Moono said, SUNY Schenectady could consider adding training programs in mechanical and avionics repairs and maintenance.
He said that all these areas are without qualified people to fill the jobs.
“There’s a national shortage of pilots, a shortage of air traffic controllers, avionics,” he said. “The pandemic has not helped, it has only accelerated the crisis.
“We are also looking at other newer aviation technologies, such as unmanned aircraft, that we can deploy.”
Pilot training is one of the most selective curricula in the school, as students must pass a physical FAA and be a U.S. citizen or pass a background check.
It’s also one of the most expensive, with nearly $ 30,000 in lab fees. Two private sector partners, Richmor Aviation and Westfield Flight Academy, offer aircraft owners and flight monitors.
“The program is really expensive,” Moono said, but added that most students receive financial support from the federal government and the SUNY Schenectady Foundation. There is additional support for veterans.
Marisa Dreibelbis and Tuveena Sharma were preparing for the pilots at the event on Wednesday.
Both students are excited about the new classroom / hangar, even Dreibelbis will be licensed before it has many opportunities to use.
“I’m on my way to getting my private [pilot certificate] this summer, ”said a 20-year-old Latham resident. He has already moved and returned to Utica alone, and plans to get a bachelor’s and commercial pilot license before finally working for a commercial airline.
“I want to go international,” he said.
Sharma, a high school student, envisions a similar career path: a four-year degree and an aircraft cabin.
“My goal is to graduate and I hope to transfer to a school with a degree in aviation sciences,” said a 19-year-old resident of Schenectady.
“I’ve always been interested in flying. I was in Air Force ROTC in high school. ”
Sharma said the flight instructions showed that he had made the right choice: when he made a good landing, something clicked inside him.
For Dreibelbis, the moment he arrived at the age of 14, he protested strongly against attending a camp at the Empire State Aerosciences Museum. Flying time was one of the activities, and he had to take the wheel.
“When they gave you controls it was something completely different, I loved it,” Dreibelbis said.
It has been an exciting time for both student pilots, though not yet terrifying. Runway 22 at the airport has a bit of a hill at one end, and the contour of the ground could channel the wind in a certain way, Dreibelbis said.
“Especially when it’s windy, there can be some hesitation in landing because it hits you from the side,” he explained.
Also, that solo flight to Utica was supposed to be a flight to Hamilton, but as he approached he saw that Hamilton had a cloud cover, which is not valued.
“I was a little scared for a second,” Dreibelbis said.
So he sent a radio to the Syracuse tower and got permission to go to Utica.
No student has said they are concerned about making their way into a male-dominated profession.
“I was the only girl when I came to class the first day,” Sharma said, adding that she found it a bit strange. He also pointed out that all gender references were about men.
It was not until the meteorology class that he met Dreibelbis.
“I think it’s fun to be one of the only girls,” Dreibelbis said.
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