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,” he said.
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 four students to more than 200 in the past few years.
Expanding its offerings to include training for aircraft mechanics in spring 2009, the FAA-certified School of Aeronautics provides four-year Bachelor of Science in Aviation degrees for aspiring private and commercial 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.”
Young put the program on the map recently by winning one of Virginia’s most prestigious aviation awards, the 2008 Aviation Person of the Year, 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.
Young, who received a plaque in Richmond, Va., insists the award wasn’t a solo effort.
“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. Then, in 1995, his life took a new direction after he met LU’s founder and former chancellor, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell.
“We had invited [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 told Falwell in 2006 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. Falwell gave his support and blessings — and the program has seen steady growth ever since.