Top Eagles Speech from the Virginia Aviation Conference
August 15, 2023
Below is the speech that Greg Campbell, Director of the Virginia Department of Aviation (DOAV), gave on August 11, 2023 at the Virginia Aviation Board Meeting held in Williamsburg, Virginia. The DOAV sought out Virginia’s “Top Eagles” – the three pilots who have flown the most Young Eagles in the Commonwealth.
Good morning. I’m Greg Campbell, Director of the Virginia Department of Aviation.
What if I told you that you could give your love of aviation to someone like a precious gift? To whom would you give it? Would you give the entire piece to one person? Or would you carve it up into a million little pieces to pass around? For three pilots in this room, we know the answer to this question.
For those of you who do not know, the Young Eagles Program matches pilots with children to give them their first ride in an airplane. Since 1992, this program has flown more than 2.3 million kids – all of them for free. Imagine if only 1 percent of these 2.3 million kids flown goes into this industry… That is 23,000 people right there!
The Department of Aviation has sought out the three “Top Eagles” who have flown the most kids in Virginia during the past 12 months. These pilots not only gave their time and skills – they gave these children a little piece of their love of aviation. The Top Eagles Award program is one small way for the Commonwealth to thank these selfless people. They are transforming these young Virginians into the next generation of aviation leaders one takeoff and landing at a time. We could not be more grateful to you. Thank you.
It gives me great pleasure to announce 2023’s Top Eagle Award recipients.
Third Most Active Young Eagle Pilot
Virginia’s Third Most Active, Top Eagle Pilot is Michael Nichols.
Michael Nichols has flown 44 Young Eagles in the Commonwealth. Thank you and congratulations.
Second Most Active Young Eagle Pilot
Virginia’s Second Most Active, Top Eagle Pilot is Gary Wiley.
Gary Wiley has flown 48 Young Eagles in the Commonwealth. Thank you and congratulations.
Most Active Young Eagle Pilot
And now for the Top Eagle pilot in the Commonwealth…
Virginia’s Most Active Top Eagle Pilot is Curtis Smith.
Curtis Smith has flown 53 Young Eagles in the Commonwealth. Thank you and congratulations.
I want to thank these Top Eagles as well as all the pilots who willingly share their time, talent, resources and, most of all, their passion for aviation. The young people you are inspiring will become our next generation of aviation professionals. And we all are forever grateful. Thank you.
Greg Campbell, Curtis Smith, Gary Wiley, Michael Nichols