ALEXANDRIA — The Mid-Atlantic Aviation Coalition concluded its two-day 19th annual New Jersey Aviation Conference with a new ground-school session Saturday at at Alexandria Field Airport in the Pittstown section of the township.
Titled, “The Art and Science of Flying Ground School,” it included experienced aviation educators who wove history, biology and technology into a high-level exploration of the wonder of flight in general, and of airplane and human performance in particular. Pilots and nonpilots attended the sessions.
The first day of the conference was conducted on Friday, at Princeton University’s Carl A. Fields Center for Equality & Cultural Understanding. Themed “Seize the Day – Build for Tomorrow,” a symposium was moderated by Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce President Chris Phelan. The day featured a question-and-answer session with N.J Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson and four panels of experts discussing education, policy, technology and safety issues, including how small airports can be used as living laboratories to demonstrate the practical applications of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) concepts..
Saturday’s second day, with the session at the ground school, was added to the conference as a “way to encourage greater participation by tying small businesses with an airport-based event,” said Conference Planning Committee member Linda Castner, from the privately-owned, public-use Alexandria Field.
The new format could lead to coordinated activities at small airports across the state as part of future aviation conferences.
“Such on-airport activities will be designed to showcase the benefits of New Jersey airports to their local communities,” Castner added
New Jersey boasts some of the most economically beneficial airports in the country. The state currently has more than 40 public use airports, most of which are privately owned. In terms of economic impact, New Jersey ranks 10th in the U.S., contributing $4.4 billion annually to our state’s economy. Nearly 70 percent of general aviation flying is conducted for business purposes, according to the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Coalition ..
Alexandria Field has been the site of successful tourism events such as the Magic of Alexandria Balloon Festival, and is currently home to Skydive Jersey. Alexandria Field became the nexus of activity for a $100,000 Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Education Program grant that lead to the creation of the Central Jersey Aviation Education Collaborative, a partnership between local businesses, education, and a small airport to offer outreach programs to teachers and students, especially those interested in STEM disciplines.
More recently, Alexandria Field hosted the Rutgers Women Take Flight workshop, a funded research project to evaluate “The Flying Effect” as a source of empowerment for professional women.
Established in 1988, Mid-Atlantic Aviation Coalition is a public-policy group. Its members include flying clubs, pilots, aircraft owners, airport managers, flight instructors, fixed base operators, and other aviation businesses and stakeholders.