The most visible aspect of a major shot in the arm for the aviation program at the Ohio State University Airport will be on display Tuesday, March 12, during an open house at the new Austin E. Knowlton Executive Terminal and Aviation Education Center.
The open house at the airport at Don Scott Field is scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. Those who look up upon entering the spiffy new terminal – which replaces one built in 1942, the year the airport opened – will see a 1940 Piper J-3 Cub plane suspended from the ceiling.
A public meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. that day regarding the next phases of improvements to the facility off West Case Road in northwest Columbus and the development of the airport’s master plan.
The plan, which is intended to identify current and future needs and set priorities over the next 20 years, is anticipated to cost $873,000. The Federal Aviation Administration would pay 90 percent of that tab, according to airport officials.
The new terminal, which visitors can tour on their own or be guided by aviation students, is part of a $10 million donation Ohio State had received from the Cincinnati-based Austin E. Knowlton Foundation in 2015. Knowlton, an Ohio State graduate, created the foundation that provides grants to colleges and universities in furtherance of the advancement of high education.
The terminal is a welcome show of commitment to the university’s aviation program, according to student Laura Tamilia. The Pittsburgh native said she is close to qualifying for her commercial pilot’s license.
“It’s definitely nice to see physically that we have support behind us,” Tamilia said.
She said the old terminal was a nice place from which to fly a plane, but the new one is a great location for receiving an education.
“I was amazed at how fast they got this done,” Tamilia said.
“The open house is a one-of-a-kind event to show how the university leverages the airport’s utilization by the community and business partners to enhance the academic experience of our students through research and hands-on work opportunities,” said Carlos Ruiz-Coll, the airport’s manager of business development and airport administration.
“Aviation and aerospace are huge parts of Ohio history,” said John M. Horack, a professor in Ohio State’s College of Engineering.
People need look no further than the back of the Ohio quarter to confirm that, Horack said.
“Things that matter go on your money,” he said. “Without continued investment, we’re not going to be able to put Ohio’s contributions to aviation and aerospace on the next set of state quarters that my grandchildren will spend.”
The timing of the Knowlton foundation’s grant couldn’t have been more fortuitous, Horack said. It comes at a time when more and more high-paying jobs are opening in the aviation field as people expect packages, medical supplies and their online-shopping orders to arrive on their doorstep the next day, he said.
That means a demand for not only more and more pilots but also a host of other jobs within the industry, he said.
“It was incumbent on us to continue to invest in that,” Horack said. “The airport for many people is the first and the last thing they see of Columbus, the first and last thing they see of Ohio State University.
“This is a gateway, and therefore we want to create an impression of the reality of what Columbus is about.”