Hundreds gathered on Friday, March 17, for Averett University’s Department of Aeronautics’ annual Aviation Day. Held in an airplane hangar at Averett’s George J. Falk Flight Center at Danville Regional Airport, alumni, current students, prospective students and their families, aviation partners and University faculty and staff joined to kick off the day.
Nearly 30 high school students considering a career in aeronautics and their families attended, learning about the various sectors of the industry and Averett’s offerings in sessions throughout the day – including some cadets from Hargrave Military Academy.
Through a newly implemented partnership between the University and Hargrave, qualifying high school students can achieve their goals sooner by completing private pilot ground school and flight labs at Averett’s FAA-approved Part-141 flight school, all while earning dual enrollment credits for both Hargrave and Averett for each course.
“People often comment on the amount of community partnerships we have at Averett, and it’s very true. Innovative partnerships that meet critical workforce needs are a major strategic priority at Averett, and when we can partner with an esteemed military academy, right here in the region, it’s a win-win,” said Franks. “We’re delighted to welcome Hargrave cadets to Averett’s Aeronautics program.”
Dr. Franks presented Hargrave President Eric Peterson, Hargrave Academic Dean Jim Tung, and Hargrave Board of Trustees member Tom Nichols with a framed collage honoring the partnership.
“We are deeply grateful to Averett University, Dr. Franks and the entire program team for working with us to formalize the aeronautics partnership,” said Peterson. “We see this partnership as the first step toward additional opportunities for collaboration between our institutions, and hope that this program represents the ways in which we can collectively benefit our students and the larger communities around us.”
Dr. Franks then introduced the crowd to Nathanial Duff, the inaugural cadet in the partnership program. Duff is a senior cadet at Hargrave with an interest in aeronautics. This fall, he completed the coursework and his first solo flight.
In keeping with an age-old tradition of the Averett Aeronautics program, Duff was presented a special token to commemorate this accomplishment. When Aeronautics students complete their first solo flight, the huge milestone is celebrated by having their flight instructor cut off the back of the student’s shirt to show that he or she no longer needs help. Then, the instructor decorates it and presents it to the student. Flight Instructor Ricardo Roman-Flores presented Duff with his decorated shirt.
“This is a big milestone for our students and a major point of pride for us all, and Nathaniel, you’ve earned this same rite of passage. Congratulations from all of us here at Averett!” said Franks.