Penn State Mythbusters: GSpan’s Jet
Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a new series that Onward State will be running, aiming to enlighten Penn Staters about the truths behind some of the most loved myths about Old State. If you have a suggestion for a myth to be busted, email Chase with your ideas.
For years, I’ve been hearing people mention that the University owns a private jet that Graham Spanier can use to fly to Harrisburg and other locations for university business. Most of the time it’s mentioned in jest, with the the joke that the plane is used for extravagant trips for upper-level university officials. But nobody’s ever been too upset about the concept of the university owning a private jet.
With the budgetary issue that’s been the news of the month, I’ve been hearing whispers that this jet is an unnecessary expense that should be cut. I’ve even heard a story about Dr. Spanier flying the jet from University Park Airport to Harrisburg for the house appropriation committee meetings, à la the CEOs of the Detroit automakers.
I reached out to Annemarie Mountz, Assistant Director of Public Information, to get to the bottom of this question. The answer was the one that I expected. Penn State does not own a private jet, though it does own 5 other aircraft. Penn State Hershey Medical Center owns three medical evacuation helicopters (dubbed “Life Lion”), which you might have seen hanging around on football weekends. In addition the University has two ’90s-era turbo-prop planes (note: turbo-prop does not equal jet) that it uses for official business around the commonwealth. Mountz said that “the planes were acquired several years ago to enable University employees to fulfill their University responsibilities, recognizing the geographic dispersion of the University and the lack of direct commercial air service to most locations.”
So while the University might have a few planes in its fleet, they are a far cry from the Gulfstreams that the CEOs of GM, Ford and Chrysler used during their financial woes.