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School of Aeronautics dean wins state aviation award

August 15, 2008 : Teresa Dunham

On a spiritual gifts test, Dave Young’s highest scores are for primary leadership, administration and faith.

“I guess I am a builder by nature. I like to build programs,” said Young.

As Dean of Liberty University’s newly formed School of Aeronautics, that’s exactly what Young is doing. He’s piloting a revamped aviation program that has grown from a mere four students to more than 200 in the past few years.

Expanding its offerings to include a new helicopter training program this fall and aircraft mechanics training in spring 2009, the FAA-certified School of Aeronautics provides four-year Bachelor of Science in Aviation degrees for everyone from private pilots to airline transport pilots.

“My primary focus has been developing and growing the program,” said Young. “I would like to see us be the center of excellence for missionary aviation in the United States.”

LU now has the second-largest faith-based aviation program in the country — but that’s not the only reason folks are taking notice. Young recently put the program on the map by winning one of Virginia’s most prestigious aviation awards, the 2008 Aviation Person of the Year award presented by the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Aviation.

“Not only does he have a long history of making contributions to aviation, but he has made some very specific contributions within the last year to an area [of education] that we consider very important,” said Betty Wilson of the Virginia Department of Aviation.

He was nominated by Calvin Falwell, an owner of Falwell Aviation Inc. and a Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame inductee. He will receive an official plaque on Aug. 19 in Richmond.

“Dave Young richly deserves this award. He’s spent a lifetime in aviation and has been a strong proponent of the growth of Liberty University’s flight program,” said Ernie Rogers, Aviation Department chairman.

Young insists that the award wasn’t a solo effort.

“I really feel honored. I do believe it is a reflection on our program here at Liberty University,” he said. “Without our program, obviously, I wouldn’t even be considered for it.”

A retired Brigadier General for the United States Air Force, Young spent more than two decades serving his country by flying. Then, in 1995, his life took a new direction after he met LU’s founder and former chancellor, Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr.

“We had invited [Dr. Falwell] to come to our base and speak at our annual prayer breakfast. So we met, and one thing led to another, and I ended up retiring from the Air Force and coming to Liberty University,” said Young, who has worked primarily in leadership positions at LU for the past 11 years.

After serving as LU’s Executive Vice President, Young came to Falwell Sr. in 2006 and said that he’d like to get back into aviation. At the time, LU had an aviation department, but it was on a much smaller scale. Dr. Falwell gave his support and blessings — and the program has seen steady growth ever since.

“We are very blessed because we have been supported all the way along. God has provided us with what we needed at the time that we needed it,” Young said.