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Guests tour site of new aviation affiliate program in Newport News

December 16, 2013 : By Ted Allen/Liberty University News Service

Retired U.S. Navy Capt. and current Liberty SOA Associate Dean Ernie Rogers.

Retired U.S. Navy Capt. and current Liberty School of Aeronautics Associate Dean Ernie Rogers (right) discusses the new affiliate flight training program offered through SOA and Freedom Aviation.

Liberty University’s School of Aeronautics (SOA) and Freedom Aviation joined forces to introduce its first affiliate flight training program Saturday during an open house at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.

The program will offer online courses through Liberty University Online (LUO) for students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in aeronautics. Courses will supplement flight training provided by instructors hired through Freedom Aviation, the flight operations center and aviation business used by the SOA at Lynchburg Regional Airport.

“We were extremely pleased with this weekend’s open house,” said retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Dave Young, dean of the School of Aeronautics. “It achieved our objectives as the attendees were able to visit our facilities, meet our team, and enroll in our program.”

Guests are shown a flight simulator during a Liberty University School of Aeronautics event.
Visitors took rides in a Redbird simulator that will be used by Freedom Aviation through its flight training affiliate program at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.

Approximately 500 visitors took tours of the 6,000 square feet of office and hangar space Freedom is leasing from Newport News/Williamsburg International’s fixed-base operator Atlantic Aviation. Guests had the chance to meet instructors from SOA’s Aviation Maintenance Technician Program (AMTP) and its Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) division as well as representatives from Liberty’s Office of Military Affairs, Liberty University Online, Residential Enrollment, and recruiters from Piedmont and ExpressJet Airlines.

Representatives from the Virginia Department of Aviation and aircraft manufacturing companies such as Cessna also attended the open house along with aviation education icons John and Martha King.

Responding to the growing demand for pilots around the world, the affiliate program is an innovative approach to expanding the SOA beyond its Lynchburg Regional Airport campus.

Liberty SOA representatives present visitors with materials about the program.
Liberty representatives provide information to visitors about the program available on the Lynchburg Regional Airport campus.

“The Newport News initiative is providing the Liberty School of Aeronautics with an unprecedented opportunity for people to fulfill their dreams of being pilots and to pursue careers in aviation who otherwise would not have had the chance,” Young said. “This initial step is just the beginning as we partner with Virginia Peninsula universities and schools, provide flight training to our military veterans and their dependents, and expand the program to other areas.”

Liberty SOA is also affiliated with the Denbigh Aviation Academy, based at Newport News/Williamsburg International. Aircraft maintenance students there receive college course credit toward their airframe and power plant certification, which is transferable to Liberty’s residential program.

Additionally, Freedom Aviation has agreed to provide all flight training for Hampton University’s aviation students.

Young expects the affiliate program to lead to more partnerships with SOA-approved flight schools located at airports across the U.S.

“We will work in collaboration with other universities, flight schools, and even high schools to produce a synergistic approach to producing pilots,” he said.

Liberty School of Aeronautics plane in the hangar at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.

Liberty School of Aeronautics staff show off one of the Cessna aircraft to be used by students of the new
flight training affiliate program at an open house at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.