The Lynchburg community had the opportunity to see an all-star performer lineup including the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and nine other exciting acts during the Lynchburg Regional Airshow, sponsored by Liberty University, on Saturday and Sunday. This is one of the largest events in Central Virginia.
Liberty was named the the title sponsor for the 2016 airshow in March. Students and staff from the Liberty University School of Aeronautics and Freedom Aviation, the university’s fixed-base operator, were heavily involved in the event as part of a team of 700 volunteers needed each day of the show.
This year’s theme, “A Salute to Service,” honored the men and women who serve and protect the nation and its communities, specifically military and first responders. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to support these heroic individuals.
During the show, veterans from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War were honored as they rode across the runway in Chevy Corvettes. Additionally, Liberty alumnus Major General Dondi Costin (’91, ’92), who is currently serving in the United States Air Force as Chief of Chaplains, assisted in swearing in the newest members of the Air Force.
Dave Young, U.S. Air Force Veteran and president of the airshow organization, said that Liberty being the title sponsor was significant.
“The airshow is a great event and a wonderful opportunity to bring to the Lynchburg area,” he said. “This show offered a wide array of entertainment for families. It also gave the community a chance to experience the history of aviation and the significance it has had on our country.”
Performances included Kevin Coleman, Red Bull Air Race Pilot; Scott Francis, the pilot of one of only 12 MXS aircrafts in existence; the U.S. Navy Leap Frogs, whose members include Navy SEALS; Julie Clark, one of the world’s most famous female aerobatic performers; and Shockwave, the world’s fastest Peterbilt Semi Truck with a Guinness Book of World Record speed of 376 mph, racing an airplane. The elite U.S. Navy Blue Angels closed the show both days with an action-packed performance.
Spectators also enjoyed interactive ground displays including an Air Force performance lab, featuring a pull-up bar challenge, touch-screen challenge games, and an F-16 display. Guests also had the chance to experience what it is like to be in the cockpit and fly a Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet through a simulated flight experience.
Alumna Amanda Spence (’13), a flight instructor in the School of Aeronautics, said she enjoyed inspiring future aviators while volunteering at the event.
“Airshows like this are an opportunity to help the younger generation become excited and involved in aviation at an early age,” she said. “My professors always taught me that aviation is a bug, and once you catch it, there is no looking back. Through my education and what I have learned, I am able to show people that they can have careers in aviation as well.”
- Liberty is a leading institution in aeronautics education, offering a variety of online and residential programs through its School of Aeronautics, including a bachelor’s degree with concentrations in military aviation, missionary aviation, commercial/corporate aviation, and unmanned aircraft systems. Liberty owns and operates its own fixed-base operator, Freedom Aviation, and recently acquired a local airport to provide more hands-on opportunities for its students. Additionally, Liberty has over 40 Flight Training Affiliate (FTA) programs across the country, wherein students can log flight hours at a qualified FTA while earning a Bachelor of Science degree online.