Bridgewater, VA – On November 8, 2022, Fishburne Military School (FMS) dispatched 14 cadets on a day of avionic fun with NEXTGEN and Dynamic Aviation (DA) located in Bridgewater, VA. Dynamic Aviation has a 90-year family legacy in aviation that offers opportunities for thriving careers. NEXTGEN Aviators is the program created by Dynamic Aviation, providing technical opportunities and education for future generations as a solution for the national workforce shortage.
The cadets arrived early Tuesday morning, eager to embark on aviation adventures. Anthony Whitehead, a United States Air Force retiree, now stands as Dynamic Aviation’s Education Relations Specialist. Whitehead’s main responsibility is to ensure the company is developing and providing experiences that are of tremendous value to the students, to the educators, and to the industry.
Whitehead said, “Dynamic Aviation is a company that truly invests in employees’ personal and professional growth and development. The company has a varied portfolio of aviation activities, all of which I sum up with, ‘Saving lives and protecting communities.’ Whether it’s the work we do with our Department of Defense partners, the environmental protection work we do related to fire control or marine spill response, helping develop AI-controlled aircraft, or NEXTGEN Aviators – the company uses modified aircraft to develop or deliver solutions to the problems of both today and tomorrow. And that’s a cool thing to be a part of every day.”
The cadets were greeted by Whitehead, then guided through hands-on activities where they learned how to bind aircraft metal by building a model airplane, teamed up in pairs to hard wire a control panel that communicates from the aircraft to the runway for take-off, and even flew virtual planes to practice take-offs and landings. Some were successful, but most cadets didn’t quite find success with the simulation plane and nervous laughter filled the room.
The many different types of career opportunities with Dynamic Aviation presented themselves as the day progressed. Shane Combs, Director of Sales, has fulfilled many different roles with DA and says the favorite part of his job is “the constant challenge of change,” which keeps careers interesting and ever-evolving with individual growth.
In addition, Kris Estep, is the Operations Supervisor for NEXTGEN Aviators at DA and interim Site Manager for their BAIT program. He is responsible for the equipment and procedures that allow DA to introduce thousands of teens to life-long, fulfilling careers in aviation. As interim Site Manager for our Bait program, he is also responsible for assigning job responsibilities, making travel arrangements, and coordinating operations between our personnel and our contract holders for the program.
Estep said, “In my profession, I love the services we provide and the missions we support. The use of aircraft to protect life, the environment, land, and property will never get old for me. In my current job, I love seeing teens get excited about aviation. It’s incredibly satisfying to step back and watch them go through a project with confidence, having learned a skill that was previously unknown to them.”
The cadets explored inside the Miss Virginia plane and Eisenhower’s first US Air Force One aircraft, originally built in 1948. The Airforce One was going to be used as scrap metal until DA retrieved it. The plan is to restore it to its original exterior and interior and update the mechanics for it to fly all over the U.S. as a traveling museum.
“The Lockheed Constellation ‘Columbine II’ was the first presidential aircraft to go by the call sign, ‘Air Force One,’ indicating to air traffic control that the president was on board. Columbine II shuttled President Dwight D. Eisenhower around the globe, logging more than 50,000 miles in service to the president and other dignitaries including Vice President Nixon and Queen Elizabeth II.” DA’s legacy team is now hard at work refurbishing the aircraft to its 1950s grandeur, including original colors and marble interior.
The day finished with the cadets’ taking flight on a small DA aircraft. They wore pilot headsets so they could tune in to the flight prechecks and listen to the radio communication between the pilots and the coordinators on the landing strip. The cadets could not hide their excitement climbing down the steps after landing.
Cadet Matthew Van Ginhoven, whose aspirations to become a pilot were confirmed by the visit to DA, said, “I want to be a pilot! My favorite part about visiting Dynamic Aviation was being able to be on-site and experience all the cool equipment and learning tools they had for flying. I also learned that there are a lot more jobs available than just becoming a pilot.” Van Ginhoven further explained that even though he was previously interested in becoming a pilot, he never had the resources to pursue it, until his visit to DA.
FMS cadets and staff had the opportunity to talk to about the NEXTGEN program and employment with Dynamic Aviation recognized that DA has a culture that is both family-oriented and mission-focused. The company understands its critical role in the safety and security of its community, nation, and in some cases, the entire world, without ever losing sight of the well-being of its employees.
The purpose of this visit was to introduce young men to the career potential that technical jobs hold. This was an opportunity to connect cadets with resources within their community and state that offer inspirational, motivational, and established careers.