Hunterdon County Democrat NJ NEWS
19th annual New Jersey Aviation Conference set for May 2-3
April 23, 2014
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  • Small Airport to Host Daylong, Value-Added Event as Part of the Two-Day Conference The Mid-Atlantic Aviation Coalition (MAAC) recently announced the dates for its 19th Annual New Jersey Aviation Conference. Featuring a new and expanded format, the conference combines a traditional symposium on the first day with a unique ground school session on the second day.

    According to Conference Planning Committee member Linda Castner, “expanding the conference to two days encourages greater participation by tying small businesses with an airport-based event on the second day.” If successful, the new format could lead to coordinated activities at small airports across the State as part of future aviation conferences. Castner added, “Such on-airport activities will be designed to showcase the benefits of New Jersey airports to their local communities.”

    New Jersey boasts some of the most economically beneficial airports in the country. Our state currently has more than 40 public use airports, most of which are privately owned. In terms of economic impact, New Jersey ranks tenth 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. These facts alone should be of particular interest to Chambers of Commerce.

    In addition to contributing to the success of New Jersey’s tourism industry, general aviation offers numerous educational opportunities both in classrooms and on airports across the state. The symposium’s Education panel will demonstrate how small airports can be used as living laboratories to demonstrate the practical applications of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) concepts.

    The symposium part of the conference will be held on Friday, May 2, at Princeton University’s Carl A. Fields Center for Equality + Cultural Understanding. Themed “Seize the Day – Build for Tomorrow,” the symposium will be moderated by Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce President, Chris Phelan. The day will feature a question and answer session with NJ Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson and four panels of experts discussing Education, Policy, Technology, and Safety issues. Marie Barry, Director of the NJ Department of Education Office of Career and Technical Education, will offer insights as part of the Education panel.

    The airport-based part of the conference will be held on Saturday, May 3, at Alexandria Field Airport in Pittstown. Titled, “The Art and Science of Flying Ground School,” highly experienced aviation educators will weave 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 non-pilots alike are welcomed to register.

    An exemplar of New Jersey’s privately-owned, public-use airports, 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.

    Conference attendees can register for one or both days as follows: $50 for either day, or $85 for both days. Registration includes continental breakfast, lunch, and a post-symposium reception on day one; lunch on day two; and a chance to win various door prizes.

    Conference details and registration forms are available at these websites:,,

    Established in 1988, MAAC members include flying clubs, pilots, aircraft owners, airport managers, flight instructors, fixed base operators, and other aviation businesses and stakeholders. MAAC is the public policy group representing the interests of its members before state and local governments in New Jersey