West Windsor, N.J. – Record enrollment is the latest milestone for Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) Aviation Flight Technology program, which continues to offer a practical and affordable way for pilot candidates to earn their wings.
Over 180 students enrolled in the curriculum ahead of the Fall 2019 semester. The mark comes a few months before 2020, the program’s 10th anniversary of working with Infinity Flight Group.
“This has been a fantastic working relationship,” said Aviation Coordinator Judith Stillwagon. “Infinity does a great job of getting students in the door, and letting us take it from there.”
Mercer’s flight school has been active for the last 40 years, but only in the last 10 has it seen such positive growth. The locus for change is two-fold; currently, the aviation industry is facing a pilot shortage, and schools like Mercer are responding to the prospect of a burgeoning job market in full force.
At the same time, Mercer’s partnership with Infinity has provided the program savings in the form of plane ownership, which it can reinvest in other areas.
“Before 2010, the college owned its own planes, which was a huge financial endeavor,” Stillwagon said. When Infinity entered the picture it subsidized the ownership and maintenance costs, all while growing the fleet of aircraft to which Mercer’s program had access.
“In the last decade we’ve jumped from serving 33 students to almost 200,” Stillwagon added. “And now we have 33 planes at our disposal.”
The influx of students is spread across the Flight program’s two tracks. The traditional track welcomes students without prior flight experience while the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) track helps helicopter pilots transition to flying fixed wing aircraft.
As an added bonus, Infinity’s partnership with Piedmont, a regional airline and subsidiary of American Airlines Group, benefits Mercer students in their job hunts.
“Students can interview with Piedmont while instructing,” Stillwagon said. “Once they reach the requisite amount of training hours, they can move on to work at a regional airline.”
Stillwagon noted that where Mercer has a leg up over other programs is in both the cost and speed with which prospective pilots can earn their certification.
“At four-year schools, students have to finish their four-year degree in addition to the training and instructing requirements,” Stillwagon said, adding that enrollees also save on two years of tuition payments.
Stillwagon added, “All else equal, our students will be sitting in in the co-pilots seat in three years.”
MCCC’s Aviation Flight Technology Program is hosting an open house on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. on the West Windsor Campus. Attendees are asked to RSVP at the Infinity Flight Group website. The location will be provided upon RSVP via email confirmation.