Aviation at Farmingdale State College: Bringing the World a Little Closer

Authored by Michael J. Krasnoff

Farmingdale State University of New York

Taken of an unnamed student at Farmingdale State University’s Engineering Technology program. This photo does more than portray a student and a plane, it is a living document of Farmingdale State University as a pioneer in creating a post-World War II college level aviation program that was previously only offered in vocational schools.

World War II played a major role in the evolution of the workforce. “The war left an altered economy that demanded a workforce whose education and training needed to be more technical in nature” (Cavaioli 2012, 139).

Farmingdale State University proved to be a pioneer when it established an Industrial-Technical Division in 1946. The program, endorsed by Director Halsey B. Knapp, was “a two-year technical education, based on evolving technologies, was now essential to meet the growing needs of a booming post-World War II economy” (Cavaioli 2012, 142).

By 1989, Farmingdale offered an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in aerospace technology and aircraft maintenance mechanical technology. “The program recognized the burgeoning aviation industry that required skilled technicians in positions of flight control, air carrier operations, airport management, and related government capacities” (Cavaioli 2012, 220). 

In half a decade, a typical visualization of the agricultural school went from cows and other livestock to, “Six or seven students huddled around a table receiving ground instruction in the late afternoon, while sleek Katana training airplanes sat lined up on the runway, their engines silent” (Arenson 1999, par. 8).

“Today the Aviation Department is located at Republic Airport and offers a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical science, professional pilot and Bachelor of Science degree in aviation administration. It is recognized as the premier collegiate aviation program on Long Island, and the region” (Cavaioli 2012, 221).

In 2014, Farmingdale’s aviation school was so prominent that the Federal Aviation Administration allowed the school to cut its mandatory flight hours of 1,500 to 1000 in order for a student to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. “Farmingdale officials said that about 300 colleges and universities offer aviation degrees, and only 45 are authorized by the FAA to certify their graduates for the reduced hours necessary to obtain the qualification” (Spangler, 2014, par. 3). 

Farmingdale’s program has produced pilots who have flown famous celebrities. Class of 1986, Philip Prosseda, has flown the likes of Frank Sinatra, Steven Spielberg, Led Zeppelin, Robert DeNiro, and Madonna (Farmingdale State University 2016).

Farmingdale’s program mirror’s the “Vincentian Perspective” in that aviation plays a major role in increasing social progress and economic prosperity. Aside from aviation playing a vital role in emergency medical services and delivering goods to every corner of the earth, according to Phillippe Rochal, Executive Director of Air Transport Action Group, “The air transport industry has not only underpinned wealth creation in the developed world, but has also brought enormous benefits to developing economies by unlocking their potential for trade and tourism” (The Economic and Social Benefits of Air Transport, 2011, 1).


Arenson, W. Karen. 1999. “Welcome to Stealth University’; SUNY at Farmingdale Remakes Itself and Hopes Someone Will Notice.” The New York Times, March 16, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/02/nyregion/welcome-stealth-university-suny-farmingdale-remakes-itself-hopes-someone-will.html

Cavaioli, Frank J. 2012. Farmingdale State College: A History. Albany: SUNY Press

Farmingdale State College, 2016. “Alumni Profiles: No Ordinary Mode of Transportation in This Alumn’s Daily Responsibilities,” March 16, 2019.

Rochat, Phillippe. 2011 “The Economic and Social Benefits of Air Transportation.” Air Transport Action Group, March 16, 2019. https://www.icao.int/Meetings/wrdss2011/Documents/JointWorkshop2005/ATAG_SocialBenefitsAirTransport.pdf

Spangler, Nicholas. 2014.” FAA Reduces Hours Required to be First Officers on Commercial Airliners.” Newsday, March, 16, 2019. https://www.newsday.com/long-island/towns/faa-reduces-hours-required-to-be-first-officers-on-commercial-airliners-1.7575526