Early Friday morning both County Executive Kathleen Donovan and Freeholder John Driscoll climbed into the pilot's seat of a Cessna 172S at Bergen Community College, but only one would safely land while testing the college's new state of the art flight simulators during the grand opening of the Emil Buehler Aviation Education Center.
"It feels like you've been on a trip after you land," Donovan said after her test flight, although she did admit that the Frasca flight simulator instructor returned the "plane" to the ground. "What's so wonderful about this college, is that it is truly the crown jewel of Bergen County. This college offers so much to all of us."
Driscoll jokingly added that he did not do as well having crash landed during his attempt.
"When I went here many years ago back in 1982 there were two buildings, and look how far we've come in 30 years," Driscoll said. "I have to say there are not that many community colleges that have one-third of what Bergen does. There are not even that many four-year colleges that have a flight simulator. I've been saying it for the past three years that this is the best college in New Jersey, it's even the best college in the country."
The Aviation Center and two simulators, a Cessna 172S and Robinson helicopter, were both funded as part of a $2 million grant from the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust to equip the new Science Laboratory Wing.
"This occasion will really open new doors and avenues for our students," BCC President Dr. Kaye Walter said. "This aviation program at Bergen is a pathway for our students to pursue careers in airport operations, airport management, aviation maintenance, avionicics and aeronautics. This program is just one way that Bergen is addressing the bigger picture of building a globally competative work force."
Students that pursue their associate's degree in aviation will then be able to transfer to Vaughn College in Flushing, NY for a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics, avionics, and airport management. Bergen and Vaughn have partnered with Cessna Aircraft, in Newburgh, N.Y., which will provide internship and career opportunities to Bergen students.
"This program will be a driving force for aviation related education and training, not only at Bergen Community College but throughout New Jersey for thousands of students for years to come," Robert Boyle, Board Trustee of the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust said.
Bergen has also secured grant funding from the Department of Education, HSI (Hispanic-Serving Institutions) STEM program to offer students the opportunity to create an academic path in science, engineering and technology that includes aerospace/aviation.