After over a year of work to make the partnership possible, Shepherd University, Bravo Flight Training and the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority announced Tuesday its plans to bring aviation training and education to the Eastern Panhandle.
According to a news release shared by both Shepherd University and the airport, the university is offering the academic portion of the program through its college of business, while Bravo Flight Training will deliver the ground school flight training classes, and the airport will host the activities at the recently renovated airport facility.
“We are delighted to partner with these outstanding organizations and to continue to grow the industry for many generations to come,” said Nic Diehl, the airport’s executive director. “We have been working for the past year and a half to put some things in place at the airport to make us a more competitive facility — not just in West Virginia but regionally and nationally — and this partnership is one part of that. We envision a program that continues to grow and continues to bring more pilots to our area, better serving this fast-growing region.”
Effective immediately, business administration students at Shepherd will be able to take Bravo’s ground school class and, upon completion, may use this class for academic credit in their program, the release states.
Diehl said he believes this partnership is a huge deal for the region, as both pilots and aircraft mechanics are in high demand and said this collaborative effort will allow for the creation of an additional, educated workforce that will help the region in its ongoing efforts to expand and grow.
“As we consider the growing needs of the aviation industry, with respect to the shortage of pilots, airport managers and other technical experts, this partnership provides a unique opportunity for Shepherd University’s current and future students to receive training for an exciting career in aviation,” Mary J.C. Hendrix, Shepherd University president, states in the release.
“We are grateful to be part of this significant partnership, which will contribute to the economic development of our region,” Hendrix added.
As previously reported, the Bravo Flight Training program first opened its training facility in Martinsburg on Aug. 1, joining the program’s family of three flight schools, which first originated in Frederick, Maryland, four years ago and later expanded to Gaithersburg, Maryland.
The flight school offers comprehensive flight training opportunities, including: private pilot, instrument, commercial and flight instructor.
According to the school’s founder, Brenda Tibbs, the airport’s location was deemed perfect because it allows for a variety of flight clientele while maintaining a strong, local community connection to those in the Eastern Panhandle.
According to a release, Tibbs’ background is in early childhood development, but after taking her children to an airshow and participating in her own discovery flight, she completed training, started flight instruction and opened the flight school.
Tibbs was awarded the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Best Flight Instructor of 2016, with Bravo Flight Training being named a Distinguished Flight School in 2017 and 2018, the release added.
According to airport officials, the airport was considered an ideal location, because it has the space to allow for the construction of a maintenance shop and both long and wide runways to accommodate the training, as well as an area that provides many different types of airspace for training and Class Delta air traffic control services.
According to Diehl, what he believes sets the Bravo Flight Training at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport apart is its Part 141 Certification, making it one of only two flight schools in West Virginia to have this certification.