Liberty University officials on Thursday dedicated the site of a future LU School of Aeronautics training facility at Lynchburg Regional Airport.
Thursday’s ceremony also served as the official kickoff of a $10 million fundraising drive to finance the new 56,000-square-foot building, airplanes and support facilities.
A cornerstone of dedication was placed at the site.
The School of Aeronautics, the 10th school authorized at LU, hopes to one day have the facilities to train between 300 and 350 students pilots per year.
“We dedicate this land to the Lord,” said Ernie Rogers, who heads LU’s aeronautics program. “This day is something I’ve dreamed of.”
The dedication was attended by dignitaries including Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., the Rev. Jonathan Falwell, senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg Mayor Joan Foster and several members of Lynchburg City Council.
No specific timetable has been set for the completion of the building.
The aeronautics program hopes to grow to educate fix winged pilots, helicopter pilots, aircraft mechanics, air traffic controllers and possibly aeronautical engineers.
Dave Young, a retired Air Force brigadier general who serves as the aeronautic s school’s director of development, said the late Rev. Jerry Falwell’s vision helped inspire the aviation program.
“Part of the blessing has come because we remained faithful,” Young said. “Part of this ceremony today is to reflect on where we’ve been.”
In the past four years, the aviation program has grown from just four students to 186 this year.
Young said the program’s growth could be good for Lynchburg’s general aviation community.
“I think it will bring a much increased operational tempo at the airport,” Young said. “I think it brings the opportunity for air shows and fly-ins. It could be a boom for the community. We will become know as a hub for aviation training.”