The Aviation Department: How they integrate Christ into what they do
Nestled on the second floor of DeMoss Hall, the School of Aeronautics has a multitude of training tools and resources for students that are designed specifically for Liberty’s unique flight training program. Liberty’s Aviation Department is not only one of the largest collegiate aviation programs in North America, but it is also fully certified through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Simulators provide students an immersive flight experience where they can practice safely and efficiently in a cockpit surrounded by a large screen and practice flying. The ALSIM ALX and Frasca are the hyper-realistic and interactive virtual reality simulators available for students to use. In addition to the department’s enhanced technology, the program is equipped with flight radar and Live ATC receivers at the top of the Liberty Mountain to completely support student’s flight training.
Dr. Rick Roof has served as the dean of the School of Aeronautics for over three years now. According to Roof, “Aeronautics is a little different in that we’re pretty capital intensive. We have to buy airplanes, (and) simulators,” in addition to hiring faculty and staff.
The dean continued to describe how the School of Aeronautics headquarters is a new addition to DeMoss since it moved over from a local airport area three years ago. It continues to undergo construction that will make space for a brand-new entrance way and a world class simulator that expands to the size of an air bus.
“We keep adding instructors and faculty to support all of those students who are coming in,” Roof said. “We’ve had all the resources we could want, which support that mission of training champions.”
Christ is integrated into every aspect of the aviation program. From Christ-centered faculty like Roof and faithful professors who strive to foster students’ spiritual growth, the School of Aeronautics prioritizes the Lord in everything they do.
Roof believes in the vitality of helping students know their identity in Christ and leads a discipleship group a couple times a week.
“Our industry partners, those who are hiring our graduates, come and visit us,” Roof said. “They tell us the same thing, that our Liberty graduates are different … ‘This is the character of people that we want in our organization.’”
Take off is his favorite part of flying. “You get to see creation in ways that other people never get to,” Roof said, referring to the view of the world from up above. “The feeling of when those wings bite into the air and the lift starts and you’re off the ground. You’re seeing the beauty of God’s creation.”
Most of the actual flight training is conducted from their planes located at the Lynchburg Regional Airport where the university’s airplanes are housed. Liberty’s maintenance school is also based at the Lynchburg Airport.
Caitlyn McCoy, a junior studying aviation technology, explained how a pilot must prepare for every little detail about flying, from calculating weight and balance of the plane, to monitoring the amount of fuel required.
Pilots must also prepare to watch the weather before take-off. In addition to monitoring the weather, Roof said pilots must also make sure to have a reliable machine, check where they will be flying and check the airport before they fly. He also said other factors to consider are who the co-pilot is and how many passengers will be on the flight.
According to McCoy, aviation allows her to use her skills to honor God as she aspires to offer her flying skills to the Lord as a missionary pilot.
“I love the Lord. I feel like I’ve gotten closer to him with aviation,” McCoy said, while discussing her relationship with Christ as she continues at college.
McCoy also explained how important it is to “sleep well, eat well” and be alert and awake before even stepping foot in the plane. She explained how it can be “hard to adjust to the culture of aviation” because it can be “all performance based,” but Liberty has helped alleviate this type of atmosphere within the department by re-centering the focus on Christ.
Davis is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion