A-6E Intruder Is Largest Gift in Penn College History

Published 09.18.1996

School of Transportation & Natural Resources Technologies News

An A-6E Intruder aircraft has been awarded to Pennsylvania College of Technology by the federal government. Valued at nearly $20.9 million, the Navy aircraft and its accompanying training aids is the single largest gift in the College's history.

The A-6E will be used for instruction in Penn College's aviation and avionics technologies programs, housed at the College's Lumley Aviation Center at the Williamsport-Lycoming County Airport in Montoursville. Penn College President Dr. Robert L. Breuder stated, "The airline industry has been critical of education due to the lack of transport training experience. Yet, procuring a large airliner is too cost-prohibitive for any college or school to afford. The donation of this A-6E to a program such as ours is a commendable use of defense assets, reused to benefit public education. Few colleges in the nation can deliver the quality of education we are now able to provide with this rare and special opportunity."

Formerly used by the U.S. Navy, the aircraft was donated to the College by the Federal Surplus Property Program and allocated by the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, Bureau of Supplies and Surplus Operations.

"The Federal Surplus Program serves the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and provides federal excess and surplus equipment to nonprofit organizations," said Scott Pepperman, chief of Pennsylvania's Federal Surplus Property Division. "We're here to help communities stretch their budgets by providing property back to the taxpayers, the people who paid for the property in the first place. We're truly pleased to be able to provide this level of equipment training for Penn College's aviation and avionics students."

The A-6E, which landed at the airport on Tuesday, Sept. 17, was unveiled at a press conference the following day. In addition to College officials, representatives were on hand from the U.S. Navy, the federal A-6 Program Management Office and the state's Federal Surplus Property Division.

Prior to the public unveiling, the A-6E was disarmed and deactivated by a maintenance team from the Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Va. An explosives, ordinance and demolition team from Fort Indiantown Gap is handling the disposal of explosive substances.

According to Colin W. Williamson, dean for Penn College's School of Natural Resources Management/Transportation Technology, this particular A-6E was last used by the Navy for systems tests and evaluations and stationed at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland. The aircraft is capable of flying at approximately 550 knots (600 miles per hour), and up to 45,000 feet. The U.S. Navy's A-6 program has been in operation from 1963 to the present, with plans to retire the A-6E by the end of 1997.

At the College, the A-6E will provide the aviation maintenance program with a unique platform of systems common to large transport airframe, yet in a compact package. Williamson notes that the A-6E possesses hydraulics and flight-control systems similar to that found on a jumbo jet. As well, the aircraft's avionics suite will provide avionics students with a highly valuable learning tool.

"The aviation and avionics programs now have a fully operational aircraft equipped with state-of-the-art systems that will provide our students with opportunities to learn and practice the skills needed in the aviation industry," Williamson states. "This is truly one of the largest and greatest gifts any aviation program has ever received."

In addition to receiving the donated aircraft, Penn College has been given A-6E systems training aids and fully functional simulators. Those include a weapons-release system, digital computer system, cockpit simulator and hydraulic simulator. The systems and simulators arrived from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Washington state.

The A-6E and its training aids will be housed at Penn College's Aviation Center. The 50,000-gross-square-foot facility, featuring an 11,000-gross-square-foot hangar, opened in the Spring 1993. Currently, nearly 60 students are enrolled in the College's aviation-related programming, which includes a bachelor of science degree in aviation maintenance technology, associate degrees in aviation technology and avionics technology, and a certificate in aviation maintenance technician. The Aviation Center not only trains students for today's increasingly technological aviation industry but also offers training and facilities support to industry professionals. Most recently Penn College and Textron Lycoming, the world's leading producer of general aviation aircraft engines, entered an agreement which established the College as the worldwide Textron Lycoming Authorized Training Center.

Williamson indicates that Penn College will continue to pursue and foster relationships with government and industry officials in order to enhance its instruction and provide increased opportunities for the aviation industry and its future employees.

Williamson adds, "With the dwindling federal funds available to support expensive programs such as aviation, special relationships with industry and government agencies afford us the opportunity to augment instruction with the latest equipment in state-of-the-art facilities. The end product is an education that is second-to-none."

In addition to the support of the A-6 Program Management Office and the state Federal Surplus Property Division, the College recognizes the assistance of the Congressional Delegation, U.S. Reps. Joseph McDade and William Clinger, and U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.