Flight School Team
Left-Right (Christopher Almonte, Deandre Robinson, Stephen Hansell, Robert Argila, Kris Hendrickson, Steven Nierenberg, Ahmed ‘AJ’ Aburaida, John Bastan, Peter Rafle, Bryan O’Donnell)
Director of Operations
Richard M. Nierenberg, Owner
Dick Nierenberg entered the world of aviation in the early ’50s when he was in the U.S. Army, studying to become a Chinese interpreter in Monterey, CA. He found he had leisure time, so he started learning to fly at a local airport.
Upon returning from Korea, Dick enrolled at Rutgers University. While at the university he met his wife, Naomi, who was a Douglass College student.
In 1960 he again pursued flight training in his leisure time at Hadley Airport, South Plainfield. (Now closed.) Dick purchased his first airplane, a Navion, with three other partners. They soon moved the plane to Kupper Airport, Hillsborough Township.
In 1967 Dick was looking for a career change. At that time the Fixed Base Operator (FBO) at Kupper was Raritan Valley Air, Inc. which was in financial trouble. Dick and several partners invested money, with Dick as the principal investor and president. By this time he and Naomi had two sons, Jon and Ken, nine and seven years old, respectively. The reality of running an airport quickly set in. It was fun, but extremely challenging and time consuming.
The FBO had a school, sales and service, fuel, tie-downs and t-hangars. Slowly Raritan Valley Air, Inc. grew and Dick began to understand the aviation industry. By the early ’80s, Dick, who was now joined by Naomi and Ken, hit a wall as the twenty year lease was quickly coming to an end and renewal at Kupper was denied. By the mid-’80s the option of purchasing Princeton Airport arose. Ken was the motivating force behind the move.
By 1985 Dick, Naomi, and Ken purchased Princeton and they ran the two airports for two years, with Ken remaining at Kupper, Dick running Princeton, and Naomi commuting between the two, running the flight school at both facilities.
By April, 1987, the operation at Kupper was closed and the full efforts were devoted to Princeton.
Biography of Naomi Nierenberg
Naomi Nierenberg came into aviation through the back door. Having lived in Central Jersey all her life, she met Dick while she was a math major at Douglass College. They married in 1956 and had two sons, Jon and Ken.
When Dick Nierenberg went into the aviation, Naomi was totally involved with raising the children and deeply committed to local community service, serving as charter president of the local League of Women Voters, a member of the Franklin Township Sewerage Authority and Board of Education, and many other civic and service organizations.
However at this time, Naomi also worked behind the scenes at Kupper Airport, supporting Dick, by keeping the company books during the children’s school hours. When their last child, Ken, went off to college, she decided to work full time, taking over as manager of Raritan Valley Flying School in 1978.
She remains active in the business running the flight school, the fuel concession, the pilot shop and special events. Naomi has remained active in statewide aviation organizations. As a member of New Jersey Association of Airport Owners & Operators, Naomi helped lead a demonstration in front of the state capital to seek understanding and funding from the state to save New Jersey’s airports in 1987. During her presidency of AERO New Jersey, Naomi testified frequently before state legislators whose knowledge of general aviation and New Jersey’s airports system was minimal. She was a member of the Aviation Advisory Council, and the subcommittee on Aviation Education.
Ken Nierenberg, Manager
Ken, the younger son of Naomi & Dick Nierenberg, grew up in and around airplanes. He was only three months old when his father purchased his first airplane. Ken followed his father to the airport whenever he didn’t have to go to school. He performed every facet of airport jobs that he could – from cutting grass, washing airplanes, loading penny/pound airplane rides, right on to running the airport.
By the time Ken was to reach the age of 16, he had logged about 400 hours in a variety of airplanes. He soloed on his 16th birthday and received his private ticket two weeks after his 17th. (He was flying out west with friends.) Ken earned his instrument, commercial and type rating in an L29, Delphin.
Upon graduation from high school, Ken went to Purdue University, and then returned to Rutgers College. But running an airport was and is Ken’s life blood. At a very early age Ken was extremely adept at selling airplanes. His knowledge of the industry was evident.
Having worked with aviation insurers for many years, Ken decided to go to school and received insurance broker’s license. His many years of experience are of great value to anyone interested in protecting themselves in this litigious society.
Ken has worked full-time at the airport since 1978. When the Nierenbergs purchased Princeton, Ken remained at Kupper, running it for the remainder of the lease.
In 1987 when the operation at Kupper closed, Ken moved down to Princeton and now serves as the airport manager. Ken played a key role in the negotiations with the officials of Montgomery Township when a settlement was reached. Ken is the father of a daughter, Gabrielle and two sons, Jack and James. Ken has the vision, the knowledge, the intellect, and the foresight to lead Princeton Airport into the 21st century. His vision has become reality in the last few years, with the additional hangars and the expansion of the administration building.