|Liberty University's School of Aeronautics and Freedom Aviation will offer their first affiliate flight training program at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (pictured above), where an open house is planned for Saturday, Dec. 14.|
Spreading its wings in its mission to train pilots and aircraft maintenance workers in the rapidly growing aviation industry, Liberty University School of Aeronautics (SOA) is expanding beyond its Lynchburg Airport Campus this month to Virginia’s Tidewater region.
The first affiliate program of Liberty University School of Aeronautics and Freedom Aviation Flight Training will launch Saturday, Dec. 14, at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport with an open house set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The facility will offer online courses through Liberty University Online (LUO) for students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in aeronautics to 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.
Retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Dave Young, dean of Liberty’s School of Aeronautics said Newport News was selected as the first site for the pilot program primarily because of its location, within 50 miles of eight military bases. The SOA offers a specialization in military aviation as well as commercial/corporate and mission aviation.
“The Newport News Airport administration and the Newport News community have been tremendously supportive of this endeavor and are committed to a ‘win-win’ relationship,” Young said.
Young expects the affiliate program to lead to more partnerships with SOA-approved flight schools located at airports across the U.S.
“We plan to partner with the Virginia Department of Aviation to spread this concept across the state and then eventually across the country,” he said. “These affiliations will give students a way to fund not only their flight training, but also their degree.”
At the open house, visitors can take discovery flights and simulator rides as well as tours of the 6,000 square feet of office and hangar space that Freedom Aviation is leasing from Newport News/Williamsburg fixed-base operator Atlantic Aviation.
Instructors from SOA’s Aviation Maintenance Technician Program (AMTP) and its Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) division will be on hand as well as representatives from Liberty’s Office of Military Affairs, LUO, Residential Enrollment, and recruiters from Piedmont and ExpressJet Airlines, among others.
Liberty’s SOA established a hiring agreement with ExpressJet in September of 2012.
Representatives from the Virginia Department of Aviation and aircraft manufacturing companies such as Cessna also will attend the open house along with world-renowned aviation video instructors John and Martha King.
“The invitees include prospective pilots and aviation students, but we also have invited a broad scope of industry personnel to provide a large networking opportunity for individuals and organizations in all aspects of the aviation industry,” said Jenna Campbell, Freedom Aviation’s project manager.
Additionally, through a new partnership with the Denbigh “Magnet” High School Aviation Academy — also based out of Newport News/Williamsburg International — SOA is offering prospective aircraft mechanics flight training and college course credit toward their airframe and powerplant license through Liberty Online.
“We have much room for growth and visions of expanding into the public school networks, where we can start an aviation mentorship program early on,” Young said. “This effort is part of a strategic initiative to introduce the possibilities of an aviation career into the minds of young people, initially at the high school level, but expanding even into elementary and middle schools.”