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Monday, November 25, 2013

Betty Vinson Christmas Toy Airlift Will Fly Into Chesterfield County Airport on December 14th

The Betty Vinson Christmas Toy Airlift, a project of the Virginia Chapter Ninety-Nines, invites volunteer pilots from across the Commonwealth to fly into Chesterfield County Airport on Saturday, December 14th to deliver gifts for military families and for hospitalized veterans.  Visitors are invited to fly in or drive to the airport to join in the festivities including food, music and an opportunity to welcome Santa Claus.  Santa will arrive by private aircraft at 10:00 a.m. and will greet children in the terminal until 2:00 p.m.  Children who wish to bring donations for the Airlift can give them directly to Santa.  Live Christmas music will be provided by several groups throughout the day and food will be available from King’s Corner Restaurant onsite.  The event will last from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and the rain date is Sunday, December 15th.

Collection boxes for toys will be setup at public airports across Virginia.  Last year the sixth annual Christmas Toy Airlift brought in over 1000 toys for children of military personnel in addition to gifts and over $1,000 in gift cards for McGuire Veterans Hospital.  Pilots flew in from as far away as Martinsville, WVA and drove in from as far away as Galax, VA.

This year the event has been renamed in honor of its founder and longtime organizer, Betty Vinson, of the Virginia Chapter Ninety-Nines, who passed away on September 4, 2013.

The Ninety-Nines, Inc. (an international organization of women pilots) was founded in 1929 by 99 licensed women pilots for the mutual support and advancement of aviation.

Friday, November 22, 2013

“Virginia Warbird Association” seeks unity for local warbird enthusiasts

The Virginia Warbird Association has been established to educate, promote and preserve warbird operations throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. A warbird is defined as any vintage military aircraft now operated by a civilian organization or individual. The creation of the Virginia Warbird Association hopes to honor Virginia’s aviation heritage and the men and women who dedicated their lives to flying these warbirds.

 Its intention is to bring local warbird groups and pilots together under one association and be the source of information for those who would like aircraft to serve as static displays for events in Virginia and neighboring states throughout the mid-Atlantic. The first association meeting was held in Petersburg this past October where it was decided that John V. Mazza, Jr. will serve as the chairman of the Virginia Warbird Association while the board of directors is under development.

 For more information contact Mr. Mazza at 804-536-4040 or

Monday, November 4, 2013

Southwest Airlines officially landed at Richmond International Airport (RIC)

Southwest Airlines started service at Richmond International Airport yesterday. The low-fare, no-frills carrier is entering the Richmond market initially with just one daily round-trip, nonstop flight to Orlando, Fla., the capital region’s No. 3 destination with about 173,000 annual passengers. But while Southwest’s arrival at RIC may have small short-term impact, in the long run, the airline could be crucial for the region’s economic competitiveness.
“When the American Airlines and US Airway merger goes through, then there’ll be four (major) airlines left,” said Jon E. Mathiasen, Richmond International’s president and CEO. “It’s important that Richmond has all of these carriers at its airport.”

Right now, five large airlines — Southwest, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways — carry more than 80 percent of domestic airline traffic. “As a community, you want all five serving you,” said Troy Bell, RIC’s director of marketing and air service development. And the big five fly at Richmond, as well as Southwest’s AirTran subsidiary and discount carrier JetBlue Airways.

Southwest Airlines is America’s largest low-fare carrier and it flies more domestic passengers than any airline — 112 million passengers last year. Richmond International officials have sought Southwest’s service for more than a quarter century.

Historically, the Dallas-based carrier’s entry into a market had produced lower fares and increased passenger traffic, a phenomenon called the “Southwest effect.” Local officials think the Southwest effect could work its magic in Richmond, too. “It’s a powerful brand. People make an instant association with low fares,” Bell said. “It’s a remarkable brand of service. They’ve received slews of awards and accolades for what they do.”

Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for its triple bottom line approach that takes into account the carrier's performance and productivity, the importance of its People and the communities it serves, and its commitment to efficiency and the planet.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Virginia Flight team earns ninth straight NIFA Region X title

Liberty University’s School of Aeronautics flight team was extremely well equipped for the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) Region X competition, hosted by Liberty at Franklin Municipal Airport in Franklin, Va., Oct. 16-19.

“We just acquired a new aircraft, a Cessna 150, less than a year ago and this was the first time we competed with it,” said John Marselus, aeronautics professor and faculty advisor to the team, noting the plane can land at a slower speed than other Cessna models. “The teams that do the best in the nation have that aircraft for the landing competition portion. Liberty University supported us and purchased one for us which really paid off.”
The team captured its ninth consecutive regional championship, accumulating 426 points. Daniel Hartman earned the Top Pilot award and Elizabeth Michel was the Top Scoring Female contestant. Liberty featured the top finisher in every category of the competition, beating out second place Averett University and third place Guilford Technical Community College. The victory qualifies the team for a return trip to the NIFA nationals, set for May 12-17 at Ohio State University Airport.

Liberty’s team of 16 competitors was accompanied to the regional event by coaches Kyle Dillon and Matt Sylvester and by Marselus, who also served as the NIFA’s regional safety officer for the competition.
Liberty competed with the Cessna 150 and two Cessna 172s that feature Garmin 1000 integrated flight instrument navigation systems.

“We want to thank the leadership at the university for providing the resources for us to be able to compete at NIFA,” Marselus said. “We don’t take that for granted, and we’re very grateful for the support Liberty gives us,” which also covers flight practice time and travel and entry expenses, he added.
Marselus also appreciates the tremendous time and effort invested in training by Liberty’s coaches and team members.

“There’s a lot of preparation, a lot of hard work, a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into this competition,” he said. “They’re working after school and they’re working into the night. The team did a superb job.”

At the NIFA, Liberty racked up 241 points in Flight Events and 185 points in Ground Events. Team members swept first place in Navigation (Zach Floto and Samuel Schmitz), Power Off Landing (Hartman), Short Field Approach and Landing (Hartman), Message Drop (Forrest Hurley and Jeremy Lee), Computer Accuracy (Jared Yoder), Aircraft Recognition (Lee), Ground Trainer (Sean Cothran), Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation (Yoder), and Aircraft Preflight Inspection (Lee).

“This year’s team is the hardest-working team we’ve ever had,” Dillon said. “We have a few guys like Jared Yoder, Zach Floto, and Daniel Hartman who have really stepped up in both their own personal performance and in their respective leadership roles.”

Ernie Rogers, associate dean of the School of Aeronautics, served as chief judge for the competition. He said Franklin Municipal Airport did an excellent job of hosting the event for the second time in three years, with the neutral site leveling the playing field.

Liberty finished 18th out of 29 teams at NIFA nationals last year. Ohio State will have the home-airfield advantage, but Dillon doesn’t think that will make a difference.

“Liberty’s team has the talent and drive to place higher than we ever have on the national scale,” he said. “Having the Cessna 150 is a great tool and it gives us the same opportunity to win as the other big schools. Doing well is obviously our goal, but we do so in hopes of bringing glory to Christ.”

The Liberty University School of Aeronautics has grown from four students to more than 700 in the last 10 years and is currently the largest faith-based university aviation program in the country.