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Forest Service Aircraft to Aid Aviation Instruction

A plane similar to the one acquired by Penn College is shown in this photo provided to the School of Transportation Technology. A retired federal “employee” soon will be en route to Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Lumley Aviation Center, adding to the hands-on opportunities for students in the School of Transportation Technology.

A 1981 Beech BE-58P Baron − fully flyable, but grounded by the U.S. Forest Service after reaching its 5,000-hour maximum flight time − has been acquired for the college’s fleet of instructional aircraft. The school owns only one other twin-engine reciprocating plane: a 1950s-vintage Beech U8-D.

“This is much more representational of what our students will find in general aviation,” said Colin W. Williamson, dean of transportation technology.

Typically used by small-business executives, the Beech Baron is about the largest and most sophisticated piston-powered aircraft that a graduate would encounter when working for an independent owner or in servicing a small corporate air fleet.

Acquisition of the plane, the value of which is conservatively estimated at $250,000, will bring to nine the number of fixed-wing planes to which Penn College aviation students have access. Two helicopters also are on hand at the facility, which is adjacent to the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville.

“The plane is capable of flying at up to 25,000 feet, so it fills our need for more pressurized-cabin work,” Williamson said, explaining that the plane is capable of flying at higher altitudes and on cross-country trips.

It also has a flight-director system, full de-icing and heated windshield, detailed maintenance records, and a full avionics suite. The latter makes it of particular value to baccalaureate students, who delve heavily into integrated electronics during their fourth year in the aviation maintenance technology major.

Williamson said the state General Services Administration is aware of when “I’m in the market for an airplane,” and periodically faxes him a list of what’s available. Obtaining the Beech Baron was a bit of a coup for Penn College, he explained, as aviation schools are ranked well behind law enforcement and others for the allocation of retired aircraft.

The plane will be flown here from Idaho by William P. “Scott” Welch, a licensed pilot and an instructor of diesel equipment technology in Penn College’s School of Natural Resources Management. He will be its last pilot as long as it is under college ownership, as students are prohibited from flying the aircraft.

For more about aviation and other majors in Penn College’s School of Transportation Technology, call (570) 320-4516, send e-mail or visit online.

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