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Cutting-Edge, Composite-Construction Aircraft Donated to College


An ultramodern aircraft constructed of composite material has been donated to Pennsylvania College of Technology by Dr. Francis M. Powers Jr. and William T. Castle.

The single-engine, retractable-gear Velocity airplane, which was built in 1994, has a value of $137,000. It will be used for instructional purposes by students in the aviation majors at Penn College.

“It has a nice, fully functioning avionics package,” said Colin W. Williamson, dean of the School of Transportation Technology. “The plane has very low hours − 85 − and is made out of composite material, which is cutting-edge technology for our students.”

Castle, a pilot of nearly 10 years who owns Manhattan Bagel in the Giant Plaza, said the plane’s “canard configuration,” which features a rear-mounted engine, increases stability and safety.

“It makes it a very, very safe aircraft,” he said of the four-seat plane, which has been utilized previously by the College’s aviation programs for instruction.

Dr. Powers, who maintains practices in radiation oncology and nutritional medicine, said the aircraft is extremely fuel-efficient, quick and fun to fly.

“I thought it would be a good addition to the College’s group of planes,” he said. “It’s basically different from everything else they have.”

Dr. Powers, a licensed pilot since 1987, has a long-standing interest in aviation, but has found it increasingly difficult to find time to fly. When he considered what to do with the Velocity aircraft, he decided that donating it to Penn College made the most sense.

“It seemed like a good fit for the College,” he said. “It’s a great airplane.”

He offered high praise for the aviation programs at the College.

“Penn College is unique,” he said. “It’s a school that fills a need for technical training.”

Castle said the Velocity plane is equipped with a 200-horsepower Lycoming engine, but he suggested the unique design and fiberglass-composite construction distinguish it from more conventional aircraft.

“It’s pretty much leading-edge technology,” he said of the canard design.

Castle, who also owns a Cessna 172 and flies ultralight aircraft, believes “the future of general aviation is in the composite area.” He said the aircraft will be “a tremendous asset” to aviation students at Penn College. Castle’s son, T.J., was an aviation technology student at the College before receiving a degree in aircraft maintenance management at St. Louis University.

The donated aircraft is stored at the College’s Lumley Aviation Center.

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