On Friday, March 23, Averett honored a man whose passion for flying helped form its aviation program with the dedication of the Dr. George J. Falk Flight Operations Center. Dr. George J. Falk, a former director of financial aid, passed away Dec. 31, 2010, and his wife, Betty, later made a gift to Averett's aviation program in his memory.
"I met Betty last semester and talked to her in the Galesi Family Student Success Center," said Dan Schaffer, an aviation major from Pennsylvania. "I could tell she is really passionate about (the program) that George was passionate about. It's amazing to me that someone cares so much about our aviation department.
"Everything she has done has made it easier. We really appreciate it so much."
Falk's gift to the aviation program allowed the University to purchase several software programs, like spidertracks, along with the necessary hardware and equipment to allow the chief flight instructor to track the students who are flying. In addition, there are new computer stations at the Flight Center that allow the students to better monitor the weather as they plan their flights.
"The addition of the spidertracks GPS tracking system not only enhances safety, but can be used as a great training tool for aviation students as well," said Travis Williams, chief flight instructor. "And the added weather stations in the Flight Operations Center make it easier for students to prepare for each flight in one location, using one resource."
Jeff Gilliam '89, a captain for Public Airlines and a family friend of the Falks, described George as a wonderful friend and mentor.
"Many of us would not be here today were it not for him and the efforts he made to help us find financial aid," Gilliam said. "He loved the students. He would give you a fatherly talk, or as he liked to say 'closed door talks;' and when we came back out, we saw things his way. For those of you who never knew him, you missed a great man."
In addition to working in financial aid, Falk served as golf coach, director of guidance and assistant professor of psychology while at Averett. Prior to working at Averett, Falk had developed an impressive résumé. His career included three years in the United States Army Air Corps as a pilot in the European Theater during World War II and 23 years with Dan River Mills, ending as a general division manager.
There are 72 students in the aviation program who hail from five countries and 11 states. They fly 219,000 nautical miles per year.
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