ERAU Opens New Buildings in Daytona - Airplanista Aviation Magazine Monthly Column

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This aviation magazine article was originally published in the October, 2011 issue of Airplanista Magazine. You can view the original story in our digital aviation magazine here.

By Joe Clark

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has completed a $22.1 million construction project culminating in a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. Friday, September 9, 2011. Seven new buildings comprising 97,550 square feet of additional space to the campus will support more than 2000 students in the Aeronautical Science, Air Traffic Management, Aviation Maintenance Science, Homeland Security, Meteorology, and Safety Science programs.

The ribbon cutting ceremony took place in the courtyard between the new Emil Buehler Aviation Maintenance Science Building and the Flight Operations Building and drew quite a crowd of students, and in addition, many local citizens. The speaker’s podium was located in front of a 20-foot high stainless-steel sculpture titled, Pathways to the Sky, by artist Peter Forster.

Those who graduated from ERAU sometime in the 1960s, 70s, or 80s, truly will not recognize the campus as it stands today. In ”the old days,” the buildings consisted of ancient structures originally constructed on the airport property, which once served as a naval training facility during World War II. The parking lot was actually a portion of an old, closed runway.

Speaking to the assembled crowd, President of the university, Dr. John P. Johnson, said this is “truly a day of celebration as we launch a new era” in aviation. He went on to introduce other speakers including Dr. Tim Brady, Dean of the College of Aviation in Daytona, Daytona Beach Mayor Glenn Ritchey, and graduates Jim Hagedorn and Mori Hosseini.

Daytona Beach Mayor Glenn Ritchey, who is also a member of the university’s board, said Embry-Riddle is a “critical economic” generator for the city and county, and it continues to grow with even more new buildings on the horizon.

“Every success Embry-Riddle enjoys, we enjoy as a city and county,” Ritchey said. The mayor went on to note the economic impact of the university on the local economy was $400 million a year. He spoke of the days in the early 1960s when many of the residents of Daytona helped the university relocate from the Miami area to Daytona.

Hosseini, who serves as the vice chairman of Embry-Riddle’s Board of Trustees, was instrumental in helping the university after the Christmas Day tornadoes of 2006. Touring the carnage with President Johnson, Hosseini voiced the opinion that rather than repair, rebuild.

Hosseini said the first time he walked onto the Daytona campus and into the buildings, he “fell in love” with the school. Talking to the students and others assembled at the ribbon cutting, he said he wanted other students to experience similar emotions.

After Hosseini concluded his remarks, Hagedorn took the podium for his comments. A 1979 graduate of the university, he serves as the chairman and CEO of Scotts Miracle-Gro. He attributes ERAU as the place where he found direction in his life and discovered what he “wanted to be—a fighter pilot.” After graduation, he served seven years in the Air Force rising to the rank of captain and piloting F-16s.

Hagedorn contributed $2.5 million to the construction of the facility that bears his name. In describing the complex, he referred to it as a temple.

“It’s a temple of aviation and a temple of dreams for all the people who walk through those doors and walk out aviators,” Hagedorn explained in describing the facility.

At the conclusion of remarks by the various dignitaries, they gathered in front of the crowd and with overly large scissors, cut the purple ribbon in front of the crowd. The new buildings were then open and available for tours.

In addition to the contributions by Hosseini and Hagedorn, the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust and the family of Sam Goldman also provided funds for the construction project. Another contributor to the university was Helen Wessel, who commissioned the artworks for the facility. In addition to Forster’s work, Pathways to the Sky, another piece of art titled Reaching New Horizons by artist Kerry Transtrum, graces the atrium of the Flight Operations building.

The Emil Buehler Aviation Maintenance Science Building is 48,680 square-foot building which will provide classroom and lab space for training students who aspire to become aircraft technicians. One unique feature of the building is the large observation deck on the third floor overlooking the Daytona Beach International Airport.

Across the courtyard from the aviation maintenance building is a two-story structure that houses the Flight Operations Building. This almost 34,000 square-foot building is the heart of flight training at the university. It contains offices and classrooms, a control tower overlooking the ramp, flight planning facilities, and the dispatch desk.

Next to the Flight Operations Building, stands a 15,000 square-foot maintenance facility. The Samuel M. Goldman Fleet Maintenance Hangar is where the maintenance technicians service the university’s 92 aircraft.

If you’re ever flying down the Florida peninsula, take a moment to land and check out all that is available at the school. It is worth the stop.

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