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Virginia Aviation Conference Held at the Williamsburg Lodge

The 49th annual Virginia Aviation Conference was held at the Williamsburg Lodge August 9-11. The conference served as a great opportunity for airport managers from across the Commonwealth to come together with the aviation community and share ideas and discuss opportunities and challenges in the industry.

Three airport roundtables were held to focus on specific issues at small general aviation airports, large general aviation airports and air carrier airports. A topic of discussion at the small airports session was how managers are having difficulty finding employees for entry level positions. A suggestion for improvement included more focus on workforce development and getting people interested in aviation at a young age.

The conference continued August 10 with welcome remarks and the first general session, which covered a current view of the aviation system. Four industry leaders shared unique perspectives from their positions as President of Breeze Airways, VP of Maintenance & Engineering at Piedmont Airlines, President of the Airport Consultants Council and President/CEO of Norfolk International Airport.

The second general session included remarks from trailblazers in the Advanced Air Mobility field. Industry leaders shared what regional air mobility could mean for Virginia airports and their communities. A moderated discussion was led by Nick Sabo, Airport Director of Winchester Regional covering topics such as unmanned aerial systems and the future of electric aircraft.

Another session was held to take a deeper look at the intersection of regulations and infrastructure from an FAA viewpoint. Five panel members shared their insights on the evolution of aviation-oriented businesses and discussed current economic impacts. Jim Hopkins, Chairman of the Virginia Aviation Business Association shared the role and importance the VABA has in the industry.

The final general session on August 11 covered the Virginia Department of Aviation’s educational programs and what DOAV has been doing to introduce aviation career opportunities to future generations. Alton Jordan and Tony Sotelo spoke about the department’s ICON A5 Introduction to Flight program and how airports can engage in workforce development opportunities.

The conference concluded with the Virginia Aviation Board meeting. Greg Campbell, Director of the Virginia Department of Aviation honored the state’s top three pilots or “Top Eagles”, who have flown the most children under the Young Eagles program in the past year. Curtis Smith, Gary Wiley and Michael Nichols received the recognition.

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