Septmeber 24, 2012

On top of advocating for business aviation interests, the Friends of Trenton-Mercer Airport (TTN), a regional group in New Jersey, encourages local students to pursue careers in aviation through its scholarship program. Over the last eight years, the loosely affiliated but very active group of airport tenants has raised more than $100,000 in scholarships.

The scholarship recipients are students at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) – one of the only aviation colleges in the area. In fact, the MCCC aviation program was almost shut down, but through the efforts of the Trenton Airport boosters and the New Jersey Aviation Association, it is growing again. Scholarships are presented to prospective pilots at MCCC in $3,000 awards to offset the high cost of pilot training.

“This is advocacy in motion,” said NBAA’s Northeast Regional Representative Dean Saucier. “Not only is this group helping educate students, but they’re also creating goodwill among the community, advocating on behalf of business aviation and working to increase a dwindling pilot population. The best way our industry can help would-be professional aviators is by contributing to their education.”

That’s what many groups in the Northeast are doing. For many years, the Westchester Aviation Association (WAA) has hosted a career fair on Westchester County Airport (HPN). The career fair is funded by the WAA education corporation. Another White Plains group, the 30-year-old Westchester Aircraft Maintenance Association (WAMA) is a consistent participant in the career fair, helping attract students into the maintenance field. WAMA also arranges for young or out-of-work A&P technicians to attend technical training from OEMs for free.

The Long Island Business Aviation Association (LIBAA) also has an education corporation, which supports the Cradle of Aviation Museum and education center in Garden City, NY.

Scholarships are a common way for many regional groups to give back to their communities. And raising the funds to support scholarship programs can be a great vehicle for bringing business aviation groups closer together. The Friends of Trenton-Mercer Airport host an annual golf tournament, Sky’s the Limit, to benefit their scholarship fund. The tournament often attracts more than 100 participants, from as far away as Florida, Texas or Colorado.

This year’s Sky’s the Limit Golf Classic is on Oct. 3 in Trenton, NJ. To sign up, contact Friends of Trenton-Mercer Airport at