The Ohio State University finished a major renovation at its Don Scott Airport, featuring a new terminal, lobby and aviation center.
“It’s important that we have a good impression, but also that we have state of the art facilities in terms of fixed based operations, airplanes, and equipment to train our pilots,” says John Horack, a professor and director of the Center for Aviation Studies at Don Scott Field.
The $20 million project includes a two-story, 29,500-square-foot building that is also home to flight school classrooms and simulators. An observation deck enables visitors to follow takeoffs and landings.
“Our enrollment numbers increased dramatically to 130 students—the highest we’ve seen in nearly 20 years,” Horack says.
Since opening in 1942, Ohio State’s airport in Northwest Columbus has operated as a learning lab for future aviation professionals. Today, Don Scott Field is also the state’s fourth-busiest airport.
Horack says the classrooms link to a lounge area for professional pilots.
“A young man or young woman learning to fly has the opportunity to integrate and speak to private and commercial pilots who are doing this for a living and share experiences so that they become better aviators and better safety professionals in the aviation industry," Horack says.
The airline industry and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate that over the next decade, up to 45,000 new pilots will be needed to support the commercial aviation industry.
A gift of $10 million from the Knowlton Foundation aided in the project. Austin E. Knowlton earned his architectural engineering degree from Ohio State in 1931, and started the Knowlton Construction Company in Bellefontaine, Ohio.
The company was responsible for over 600 major construction projects throughout Ohio and the Midwest. Knowlton also owned planes and was a frequent client at the Ohio State airport during the 1980-90s.
Horack says Ohio is investing a lot in aviation and aerospace activities and education. Despite concerns over the last few years that Ohio State might seek to privatize the airport, Horack isn't worried about Don Scott's future.
“I don’t think you’re going to see The Ohio State University make these significant investments in the airport and then turn around and sell it,” Horack says.