SUNY Schenectady’s aviation program is soaring to heights.

“Since I was a kid, when I first flew, I was like, this is what I want to do,” recalled Muhammad Salim, a student at the college.

Salim will be one of the first students to experience the school’s new hangar at the Schenectady County Airport.

“We have to do preflight every morning,” Salim said. “We don’t want to do it outside because it’s definitely freezing outside.”

The new facility offers plenty of space for that and much more, including instructional pods, allowing Salim and fellows students access to hands-on learning.

“First lesson when I got here was amazing,” he recalled. “It was beautiful.”

The well-known program offers students networking opportunities. A number of former students who are now commercial airline pilots were on hand Thursday to celebrate.

“We’re going to grow by leaps and bounds,” Director of Aviation Programs Eric Savage said.

The industry is welcoming new pilots with open arms amid a lingering shortage.

“The Boeing company anticipates that pilot shortage to exist beyond 2030,” said Savage.

With the added capacity SUNY Schenectady will play big role in filling those gaps.

“We hope to have more pilots, more air traffic controllers and airline executives graduating from our program,” Savage said.

With students from across the state and if you’re interested in taking, there is plenty of room for more.

“If you love aviation, go for it,” Salim exclaimed.