Wins Intercollegiate Flying Association Top Prize;
Mercer County Community College’s Flight Team won first place in the region at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Safety Competition, held at the Trenton-Robbinsville Airport Oct. 20-22. Three northeast colleges competed against Mercer in flight and ground events including Bridgewater State College of Bridgewater, Mass., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy New York, and Schenectady Community College of Schenectady New York.
The flight competition included accuracy landings, navigation, and pre-flight and flight simulation. Scores were based on overall points earned from all of the events. As the highest-ranked college, Mercer won an invitation to the national competition in Kansas City this spring, where the Flight Team will compete against the best teams from other regions of the country.
“The competition emphasizes safety,” said Diane Loving, event coordinator and teaching assistant in Mercer’s aviation program. "Judges observe the entire competition, how we work with the planes and safety in handling the planes, as well as the communication coordination of the team members.”
Mercer team advisor Jonathan Turman coached the six-student flight team in preparation for the event. A graduate of MCCC’s Aviation program in 2002, Turman completed his bachelor’s degree at Hampton University and is now a flight instructor at Mercer. “The students were so dedicated and put in a lot of extra time. They’re skilled pilots who are going to do great things in aviation.”
MCCC’s Flight Team members included Adam Feldman of Edison, Edson Jerez of Newark, Gary Latham of Edison, Rich Osborn of Brick, John Tokash of Piscataway and Dean Tzitzis of Fords.
Joseph Blasenstein, faculty coordinator of MCCC’s Aviation programs, said “I am just so happy for them. It is marvelous to see theoretical training come together into practical application.”
Mercer County Community College’s Aviation program is the only one in the region, drawing students from throughout New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. The Aviation Flight Technology Associate in Applied Science degree trains students to be commercial pilots who meet the high standards set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Program graduates can become charter pilots, flight instructors and employees of commuter airlines. The Aviation Flight Technology CFI Certificate qualifies students to become Certified Flight Instructors, the first step to becoming a professional pilot. The college maintains a flight of ten aircraft at the Trenton-Mercer airport.