- By David Van Dyk
- Published: April 29th, 2014
Liberty partners with subsidiary of Textron to open up more opportunities for pilots both near and far
When the Liberty Aviation program was launched on the growing campus of Liberty University in 2002, less than 10 students dared to take to the skies within the very new course of study. Now, more than 250 students are learning to fly with more than 800 enrolled in Liberty School of Aeronautics’ various programs making it the leading faith-based aviation program in North America.
With this rapid growth, Liberty reached out to Cessna in an agreement that makes it possible for beginners in Cessna’s flight training program to enter into Liberty’s degree program.
Now when a student enrolls to earn an FAA certification through Cessna, they may also enroll in Liberty’s School of Aeronautics to obtain a degree in aviation, namely a Bachelor of Science in aeronautics.
According to a report from the Liberty News Service, the first flight affiliate training program was propelled into action at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. After one month, more than 50 students had enrolled, which was over and above what Liberty had expected, according to the report. According to the School of Aeronautics, the site was chosen primarily because eight military bases were within 50 miles of the airport.
According to Dave Young, dean of the School of Aeronautics, the program has become a way to integrate students both near and far.
“The Flight Training Affiliate (FTA) can function as a pipeline to LU’s main campus,” Young said. “This is similar to a community college, allowing both high school students and beginning college students the ability to live at home and train locally. The students are able to transfer into LU’s main campus with a head start on their degree and flight training.”
Young expressed his desire to see the aviation program grow beyond the tarmac of Lynchburg Regional Airport, expanding across Virginia and eventually the nation.
“The initial reviews are very positive,” Young said. “We are about to open four affiliates in Northern Virginia and this will give us a better indication of the growth potential. The next step is to open affiliates in other states, hopefully leading to further growth and expansion.”
According to the Liberty News Service report, Liberty partnered with Cessna, part of Textron Aviation, because of the rapid growth seen in this rising aviation corporation. With 150 Cessna Pilot Centers across the nation and more than 120,000 pilots trained in a Cessna aircraft in the past decade, Liberty has high hopes that this agreement will take off firing on all cylinders.
“I believe this agreement is providing the opportunity for us to expand our offerings and LU’s presence outside the Lynchburg campus,” Young said. “Additionally, it strengthens our partnership with Cessna, an organization that is also expanding and growing. I am optimistic that the FTA initiative will lead to further relationship-building endeavors for both entities.”
As Liberty looks to build beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains, flight schools are becoming more and more interested in what this budding school is doing. Young spoke of the excitement flight schools expressed when they had the chance to hear of Liberty’s offering, especially because of the win-win scenario for all parties involved.
According to Young, no other program existed like Liberty’s concerning flight training schools offering a package deal to students with quality flight training, academic courses and the availability of financial aid.
With the Liberty School of Aeronautics expanding as it is, Young alluded to the fact that Liberty University will continue to explore opportunities for increasing the availability of aviation training to students across the country and forming additional partnerships. In the meantime, Young has expressed his desire that the Lynchburg Liberty University Airport Campus will be a “renowned Aviation University,” training champions for Christ amidst the clouds.