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A New Set of Wings for Our Hornets

1966 Piper Aztec airplane donated to SUNY Broome.

With the mascot of an angry hornet, it’s only fitting that SUNY Broome received a new set of wings: a 1966 Piper Aztec airplane.

The one-of-a-kind donation came just in time for the college’s preparation of a new Aircraft Maintenance degree program. The program is currently seeking approval from the State University of New York, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration. The first step in the approval process? Having an airplane.

The plane was donated by retired dentist Dr. Bedosky and his late wife, Helen Jane Bedosky, who passed away in October. Dr. Bedosky has previously helped SUNY Broome in other ways, serving as a supervising dentist when the school first established its dental hygiene program in the late 1950s. He has also hired graduated dental hygienists from Broome for his practice. 

During the week Dr. Bedosky served as a dentist for decades, but on the weekends he took to the skies. Dr. Bedosky has explored his love of flight by being an avid pilot for over 40 years. From California to Key West, Dr. Bedosky has flown his family all over the country on vacation.

“Imagine going to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard for a Sunday afternoon,” Dr. Bedosky reminisced. “That’s what we did.”

The Aztec, which Dr. Bedosky purchased 36 years ago, is his fourth plane, having owned a Tri-Pacer and two Cherokee planes prior.

After speaking with his long-time mechanic, Chris Euechenhofer of C&F Aircraft Service, Dr. Bedosky learned of the opportunity to donate his plane. Euechenhofer has served as an advisor in the development of the aircraft maintenance program, and has also donated airplane equipment and tools to the college himself.

“This is truly a community effort and testament to what we can do when we all work together to improve our community,” SUNY Broome President Kevin E. Drumm said.

With a total of more than 160 airports in New York State, SUNY does all that it can to help provide an education for students interested in aviation. Collectively, SUNY students have access to nearly 45 (now 46, with the new donation) airplanes, one helicopter, and one jet-powered go-kart. Offering degrees in piloting, aircraft maintenance and much more, SUNY is dedicated to helping prepare graduates to enter a high-demand workforce for aviation specialists. Extensive training programs are offered at Jamestown Community College, Farmingdale State College, Schenectady County Community College, Dutchess Community College, and Mohawk Valley Community College. Now, SUNY Broome will also be added to that list.

In 2014, SUNY Broome was approached by the Greater Binghamton Airport to develop a program to train airplane technicians, due to the area sorely lacking in trained mechanics. The school has been looking to “lift off” the program ever since then. Now, with Dr. Bedosky’s donated plane, the school can finally apply to complete the extensive application process to get the program up and running.

Once launched, the program will offer courses on individual aspects of aircraft maintenance including aircraft structural repair, landing gear and engine repair and avionics said Joe DeAngelo, chairman of engineering technologies at SUNY Broome. After completing 1,900 hours of hands-on-training, students will then be prepared to take the FAA certification exam. The program will take a total of four semesters for students to complete.

According to AOL Jobs, those who have a passion for aviation can pursue careers in aerospace management, aircraft management, aerospace engineering, airline piloting, among others. It’s also important to note that aviation isn’t just something to explore for those who want to be a pilot. Those with skills in math, mechanical work, or security tasks, also have options within the field.

Although still waiting for approval by the FAA and SUNY, Dr. Bedosky’s donation has helped set the foundation for this unique program which will be sure to help aspiring aviators for years to come.

“I’m at a time in my life where I’m out of flying; what am I going to do with the airplane?” Dr. Bedosky said. “When I was offered the opportunity to donate this airplane, it didn’t take me five minutes. I just knew right away.”

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Written by Julia Day

Julia is a student assistant in the SUNY Office of New Media. She is an undergraduate student at the University at Albany pursuing a double major in Communications and Business Administration with a concentration in marketing.

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