Courtesy car more than a ride

A Courtesy Car Project is doing more than transporting pilots who fly into Alexandria Field Airport (N85) in Pittstown, N.J. It’s part of an initiative to open doors to the next generation of students in science, technology, engineering and math. Even better, it’s boosting the airport’s image in the local community.

The Courtesy Car Project began in September 2010 when the airport became received a Garrett A. Morgan Technology & Transportation Education Program Grant. As part of the grant’s aviation education programming, an Aviation Science Club was formed with the local school districts and airport flight students. The club was just one of 20 programs introduced to the community over a year.

The airport owners had to figure out a way to sustain as many of the programs as possible after the grant money ran out, so they put together the Hunterdon County Adventure Package.

Pilot who reserve the courtesy car receive discount coupons to a variety of Hunterdon County Chamber members products and services, such as bed and breakfast locations, museums, skydiving, river rafting, balloon rides, and restaurants. The coupons keep changing with the seasons, airport officials note.

Pilots are given the keys to a 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid to drive to their destinations. No payment is required to use the car, but airport officials ask that “if you saved a lot of money on the coupons you should be able to put some fuel back in the car and drop a tip in the Aviation Science Club’s activity fund to help them on future activities and sustainability efforts, such as field trips or model building.”

So far, all participants have benefited. The students, the airport, the sponsors, and the pilots are happy.

Another great benefit to the program is that the car has increased the airport’s visibility throughout the community, noted Linda Castner, part owner of the airport. A local dealership, Muller Hyundai, generously provided the Hyunda Sonata Hybrid for the effort, and with the help of Warren Moser, owner of Mighty Monkey Media, the car was “wrapped” with vinyl decals touting it as the airport’s courtesy car. As the car is driven around the area by visiting pilots, local business owners and decision makers are reminded of the impact that GA airport has on the town.

“The biggest value to a small GA facility has been the positive Chamber of Commerce relationship and the visibility around town when people see the car and ask questions,” she said, noting the car has even resulted in a few new flight students at the airport. “I was at a chamber tourism committee meeting a couple of days ago and had three more small businesses sign up for the coupons. This may be what the future $100 hamburger looks like.”

For more information: 908-735-0870, AlexandriaField.com

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