Randy Yohe Published

New W.Va. Vocational Aviation Program Expected To Stimulate High-Tech Job Growth

group of people in an airplane hangar
The bill signing at the Pierpont hangar
Governor's Communications Office

Twenty-five million taxpayer dollars will help build a new aviation maintenance training hangar at the North Central West Virginia Airport in Bridgeport.

Gov. Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 1029 into law Thursday. During the recently completed special legislative session, the proposal sparked contentious debate in the House of Delegates on whether this was a legislative priority.

“Everyone should be incredibly proud because this is an incredible moment for everyone here,” Justice said. “My dad was a captain in the Air Force in World War II and he always said, ‘It is an honor flying with you.’ That’s exactly how I feel today.” 

The law provides funds for the new home of Pierpont Community & Technical College’s aviation maintenance technology program. 

The 70,000 square-foot facility will give the Pierpont program a significant increase in space, allowing for a boost in annual enrollment from 130 to 200 students per year. 

Currently, the program has a waitlist of students who are immediately recruited into high-paying jobs after earning a one- to two-year degree. 

Pierpont Board of Governors Chair David Hinkle said this facility is a regional game changers.

“The importance of this school, to the businesses up here is just unbelievable,” Hinkle said. “Without this school, we wouldn’t have the industry and we wouldn’t have the growth that’s available. Our school right now is at capacity. It’s going to be a game changer for the airport and the industry that we’ll be able to bring in here.”

Pierpont President Dr. Milan Hayward said the investment in the college and region’s economic future goes beyond a private success. 

“It’s a public good,” Hayward said. “The evidence of that is this significant investment in the future of aerospace technology in West Virginia.”

The proposed design features two high bay hangers, aviation-related specialty labs, including shops for turbine and reciprocating engine overhauls, flight controls and hydraulics, lecture classrooms, and a learning resource and testing center. Pierpont’s Advanced Welding program will also have shops and classrooms within the facility.

For more information on Pierpont Community & Technical College and its Aviation Maintenance Technology program, visit pierpont.edu.