Business jet makes inspiring sojourn to Aviation Center
February 20, 2024
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  • More than 90 aviation students experienced a Gulfstream G280 business jet last week, thanks to an alumnus and his employer: Constellation Brands Inc. Patrick Herring, who received an aviation maintenance technician certificate from the college in 2000, arranged for the twin-engine jet to travel from Rochester, New York, to the Lumley Aviation Center.

    Herring serves as vice president of aviation maintenance at Constellation Brands. The Fortune 500 company is a leading international producer and marketer of beer, wine and spirits. It owns and operates a fleet of aircraft to support its executives who travel worldwide.

    “The visit was an excellent opportunity for students to engage with equipment that nearly every aircraft maintenance technician training school lacks access to,” explained Matthew D. Krepps, instructor of aviation. “One such example is the G280’s synthetic vision system and head-up display (HUD), which overlays real-time data on top of the pilot’s view of the environment through the windshield. Watching a YouTube video of an operating HUD is one thing. But you can’t really understand how everything stays in alignment when you move your head side to side until you sit in front of one yourself. These kinds of visits from industry partners are worth millions for our students.”

    Herring was one of four officials from Constellation Brands who spoke during the four-hour visit. Mark Brown, director of development and leadership strategy; Eric Regna, director of maintenance aviation services; and Alex Zdrojewski, aircraft technician, also addressed the students. One of those aviation maintenance technology students, Tyler J. Chojnicki, served as a paid intern for Constellation Brands last year. The company is hoping to recruit another intern from Penn College for this summer.

    Chojnicki praised his experience with the company, citing communication/time-management skill development and networking opportunities as chief benefits. “Aviation can be a very time-based occupation, and it is absolutely a communication-based occupation,” he said. Thus, being able to use these skills as an intern and practice them will be invaluable going forward in my career.

    “Hearing the stories of the technicians I worked under and their journey to where they are now really helped me understand my path, what I want to do in my field and roughly where I want to go.”