Kent State Aeronautics Alum Teaches in the Classroom and Hires at his Companies

The third time was the charm for Kent State University alum Nicholas Belluardo.

The 2015 graduate of the College of Aeronautics and Engineering started out in the professional pilot program but that is not where he ended his college journey.

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“I loved flying, but I didn’t know if I wanted it to be a career,” Belluardo recalls. “I switched to air traffic control and I really didn’t like it. It took me three years to figure that one out. Then, I went over to aviation management, which I found through the college. That’s where I really found the love and enjoyment of it all.”

Now Belluardo is a part-time faculty member at Kent State and the co-owner of four aviation businesses:

  • Flight Services of Wadsworth – the company that has run Wadsworth Municipal Airport for eight years providing everything from plowing runways and mowing grass to marketing the airport and applying for grants.
  • Avit Flight Academy –  which owns 38 planes at six airports in Northeast Ohio focusing on safety, youth development and relationships with Kent State and community.
  • The Airplane Clinic – operating out of three hangars at Wadsworth Airport.
  • B&P Aviation – a consulting business helping small airports with marketing and connecting with state and federal grants and community organizations.

Belluardo credits Kent State and its faculty and staff for supporting him as he determined his career path. Here is Belluardo sharing with Kent State Today that he gained mentoring and knowledge while attending Kent State which set the foundation for his career in aviation management.

After graduation, Belluardo went to work for Jefferson County Airport for one year before accepting a position at Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport the same month he and his partner Bryon Palitto were offered the contract at Wadsworth Municipal Airport.

“I gained so much experience at Cleveland-Hopkins,” he said.

Nick Beluardo, 2015 Kent State alum, worked at Cleveland Hopkins Airport for several years

Belluardo worked at Hopkins for six years as a planning manager responsible for Hopkins' capital improvement plans and grants. Before and after work he and Palitto built Flight Services of Wadsworth. Once the business was running, he left Hopkins.

Then when the flight school owned 20 airplanes, they realized that they couldn’t depend on outside firms for maintenance, so they started The Airplane Clinic, which is responsible for the flight school’s fleet and outside maintenance service.

“When we took over the contract one thing we recognized (was) that there was a need for a flight school,” he said. So, they started Avit with two planes and two pilots.

Belluardo works closely with young people giving hundreds of free airplane rides and visiting schools often. At Kent State he teaches an aviation capstone course to seniors right before they go out into their careers, helping them work through their last-minute questions and any curriculum they may have missed along the way.

“Teaching is one way of helping the students,” Belluardo said. “Hiring them into one of our companies is another way as a stepping stone toward whatever they want to do and introducing them to the people in my network that I’ve built over the years, whether it's airport management or air traffic control consulting. I get a lot out of that. It’s very fulfilling so it’s something I hope to continue doing.”

POSTED: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 12:45 PM
Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 03:50 PM
April McClellan-Copeland
Photos provided by Nicholas Belluardo