WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published February 10, 2012, 05:28 PM

Detroit Pistons Make a Big Donation to Small MN Aviation School

THIEF RIVER FALLS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - A small aviation school in Thief River Falls got a rather large donation from the Detriot Pistons on Friday morning.

THIEF RIVER FALLS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - A small aviation school in Thief River Falls got a rather large donation from the Detriot Pistons on Friday morning.

The Piston's luxury aircraft that used to carry the team to away games was donated to help students learn how to maintain an aircraft.

The 1978 model DC-9 aircraft is the biggest and the nicest plane that has ever been donated to the school.

"You certainly don't get planes like this dropped off at your doorstep as a donation," said the President of The Northland Foundation, Eric Tjelle.

The Pistons donated their team plane, not only for educational use, but also as an incentive for future aviation students at the school. With a donation like this, its hard to imagine four years ago only nine students were enrolled at Northland.

"Fast forward four years to this point we're at now over the past couple of years we've received some significant donations to the program, this being one of them," said the Dean of Aviation, Jim Retka.

"We're very thankful for the Detroit Pistons organization, what a gift," said Tjelle.

Students had the opportunity to tour the plane once it touched down. They were in awe over the leather seats and TV's, although they won't be making use out of these amenities. The large engine that the plane is equipped with and the parts will make good practice for learning how to take a plane apart and put it back together.

"Lot of questions, very intuitive, want to know a lot of questions about the aircraft," said Retka.

"Students can't believe that it gets any better than this," said Tjelle.

"These guys will enjoy it, they'll see some history, I heard a couple of students say they'll be watching pistons games from here on out," said a member of Pistons Aviation, Dennis Heinze.

Piston players sat in over-sized leather chairs. Now to give you an idea of how big these seats really are, my feet don't even touch the ground. The aviation school doesn't plan on taking these seats out or changing anything else on the inside of the plane because of the value this plane has.

"In terms of how nice this aircraft is in terms of configuration of the cabin yes certainly this is the nicest aircraft we have received," said Retka.

Professors think the Piston's plane would be a fun environment to learn more about aviation.

"We feel that it would be a nice place to have class from time to time," said Retka.

Tags: