Dave McMillion The Herald-Mail
Local aeronautics institute celebrates 10 years at Hagerstown Regional Airport
May 2, 2021
  • Share
  • MAUGANSVILLE — The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the opening of a local campus that has turned out more than two dozen graduating classes of aviation technicians.

    As the only Federal Aviation Administration–approved training facility for aviation technicians in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area, the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics operation at the Hagerstown Regional Airport provides an essential supply of new engineering talent to fill jobs in the state’s commercial, private, medical and municipal aviation industries, according to a news release from the institute.

    Aviation maintenance careers are in high demand despite the challenges of the COVID–19 pandemic, with hundreds of thousands of new maintenance technicians expected to be needed to fly and maintain aircraft over the next 20 years, the release said.

    Beginning with its first 13–student class in April of 2011, the Hagerstown facility has graduated 25 classes of aviation maintenance technicians over the past decade. About 90% of the graduates have earned jobs with local or national employers including Boeing, GE Aviation, Southwest Airlines, the Maryland State Police and Piedmont Airlines, according to the release.

    Graduates have many career opportunities with the proximity of airports such as Harrisburg International Airport, Baltimore/Washington International Airport and Reagan National Airport, said Butch Adams, director of the local campus.

    Part of the reason behind the rapid growth of the local campus is due to its strong support from regional aviation supporters, including the late Dave Rider of the local Rider Jet Center.

    When the institute explored the possibility of using training facilities at the Hagerstown Regional Airport, Rider instead offered to build a new training facility from the ground up for the institute.

    “Dave Rider was essential to making PIA Hagerstown what it is today,” said Gary Hoyle, the institute’s director of campus operations. Hoyle recalls that Rider was so eager to undertake the project, he started work after a handshake.

    The local training facility has earned numerous academic awards during its first 10 years, including a 2014 recognition from the Accrediting Commission of Careers School and Colleges as a “School of Distinction,” according to the release.

    With roots tracing to the Curtiss-Wright Flying Service, Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics was officially founded in 1929. Today, the institute is a nonprofit, career-focused family of schools offering programs in aviation maintenance and aviation electronics.