The School of Aeronautics unveiled its new “Wall of Fame” in Liberty University’s The Hangar Food Court on Wednesday afternoon.
It features a photo of Liberty University’s helicopter flying past the LU monogram and other photographs depicting aviation at Liberty — but the really intriguing part is the shirttails pinned to the wall.
School of Aeronautics Dean Dave Young wasn’t hanging up random laundry on the “Wall of Fame.” Instead, he told a group of LU students and officials, the shirttails symbolize an early aviation tradition.
In the days of tandem cockpits, he explained, students would fly with an instructor sitting behind them, and they didn’t have earphones or intercoms to communicate — so shirttails became a form of communication.
“They couldn’t speak to each other, so when the instructor pilot wanted to get the student’s attention … they’d yank on their shirts,” Young said. “When [students] were at the point where they could solo and … the significance of cutting off the shirttail meant they could now go fly, and they didn’t need an instructor pilot who was going to be jerking on the back of their shirt all the time.”
The shirttails hanging on the “Wall of Fame” are from the T-shirts of actual flight students, he said. One of the shirttails belongs to Trey Falwell, son of Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr.
Aviation has been a long-standing tradition at Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church, Young said. The tradition started with the early days of the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s ministry, when he would fly all over the country to evangelize, and it continues today with a 260-student program in the School of Aeronautics.
In support of flight at LU, several distinguished university leaders came to the ceremony, including co-founder Dr. Elmer Towns and Vice Chancellor Ron Godwin. Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. spoke to the crowd, and his brother, the Rev. Jonathan Falwell, led a prayer.
“Liberty really does have a rich history in aviation,” said Falwell, who joked that the school would practice landing sea planes at LU’s recently donated Ivy Lake property. Falwell also thanked Young and Aviation Department Chairman Ernie Rogers for their strong leadership.
Established in 1999, The Hangar is located on Main Campus behind the courtyard.
In the photo at right, School of Aeronautics
Dean Dave Young (left) and Aviation Department
Chairman Ernie Rogers (right) accept a photo of
Liberty University’s helicopter flying past the LU
monogram to be hung on the Wall of Fame.
Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. thanked the men for
their strong leadership.