The Princeton Airport has hosted any number of galas, including the annual Princeton Art & Antiques Show to benefit the Historical Society of Princeton, but on Sunday, April 11, the hangar will be transformed into an earlier era (with the help of Janet’s Weddings and Parties) to celebrate its own 25th anniversary with an open house open to its customers, employees, and the public.

This spring marks 25 years that the Nierenberg family purchased the Princeton Airport. Richard Nierenberg entered the aviation industryin 1967 when he operated a Fixed Base Operation at Kupper Airport in Hillsborough. His wife, Naomi, and son, Ken, joined him, and together they built a thriving business. But when the owner would not extend the lease, the Nierenbergs searched for a new home. Fortunately and coincidentally, the Princeton Airport had been put up for sale, and on March 29, 1985, Princeton Aero Corp was formed. They brought with them all of the services they had provided at Kupper: Raritan Valley Flying School, run by Naomi; airplane rentals; a pilot shop; aircraft sales and service; a substantial maintenance operation; and indoor and outdoor parking for aircraft.

Since then the airport has grown, with an additional 90 hangars, including corporate size hangars, and several other expansions, including an additional 3,000 square feet of office space, a new runway, taxiway, and pilot-operated lighting system giving pilots the use of the airport any time of day by activating the lights through a radio frequency; and an LPV GPS approach allowing aircraft to come in much lower during inclement weather with much safer equipment. Every inch of asphalt and concrete has been replaced over the 25 years.

Princeton Airport is home to Raritan Valley Flying School, which teaches courses from private pilot through air transport pilot. It also rents airplanes as well as porvides “flightseeing” rides. Princeton Pilot Shop is an aviation-themed gift shop with items for children and necessary pilot supplies. Pacific Air Corp provides aircraft maintenance for over 100 airplanes, while the FAA certified avionics shop installs up-to-date navigational equipment as well as does repairs. An American Champion dealership is located at the field, and new and used airplanes are for sale.

Tenants include Analar Corp, a helicopter charter operation; Nassau Helicopters, a helicopter school and charter business; Air Transport, a charter operation; and Avis Car Rental.

Perhaps the most well-known annual event at the airport is the Christmas Eve Santa Fly, when Santa arrives in an airplane and hands out gifts to children.

25th Anniversary Celebration, Princeton Airport, Route 206, Princeton. Sunday, April 11, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Open house with aviation and event vendors, food, beverages, and door prizes. Catered by Max Hansen Caterers. Janet’s Weddings and Parties will transform the hangar into an elegant, earlier era. The airport will celebrate its centennial birthday in 2011. Register. 609-921-3100 or www.princetonairport.com.

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