Aviation Education Resources For All Ages

We know that with more time at home, it can be challenging to find fun, educational activities to keep your students busy. Since we’re always looking for ways to spark interest in aviation, we’ve compiled some of our favorite educational resources for kids of all ages. From virtual tours to hands-on activities for the whole family, there’s something for everyone to enjoy!


Can’t go to space? NASA will bring space to you! NASA’s website has resources for all ages, plus virtual tours, podcasts, educational activities, and more! For comprehensive educational resources about space and flight, NASA  goes above and beyond.



Redbird Virtual STEM +Lab
Redbird is bringing the love of aviation to your living room with weekly classes taught by expert Greg Roark, Redbird’s Director of STEM education. Classes are geared towards students in 6th to 12th grade and include topics like aviation aerodynamics, aviation weather, and aeronautical decision making. Visit the Redbird website to sign up!


Amazing Space
Explorers of all ages will love the online explorations and backyard stargazing guides offered by Amazing Space! Learn more about black holes, planets, galaxies, and sign-up for updates from the Hubble and James Webb telescopes. Amazing Space also offers backyard guides to the galaxy – a perfect way to enjoy the great outdoors!



Frontiers of Flight Museum
Hands-on learners will love The Frontiers of Flight Museum STEM approved aviation activity guides using simple materials that you can find around the house. From building a bird kite to constructing a catapult launcher, these activities can spark the imagination of young aviation enthusiasts!



Teacher Planet
Teacher Planet offers a wealth of lesson plans, printable templates, and activities based on the curriculum used in observance of National Aviation Day. You’ll feel like a teaching pro with these teacher-approved resources!



For students in 2nd through 5th grade, AvKids offers a mini-course about aviation science developed by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). Kids and parents alike will love the educational components combined with the “investigation” activities that demonstrate aviation principles.



PBS Learning Media
The next generation of aerospace engineers can get a head start with the PBS Learning Media Aerospace Engineering Collection. Students in 6th through 12th grade can engineer a jetliner, meet other aerospace engineers, delve into the history of flight, and more!



Discovery/Boeing Age of Aerospace Documentary Series
For an educational twist on family movie night, check out the Age of Aerospace documentary series! From the first flight to space wars, Discovery and Boeing produce intriguing episodes that the entire family will love.


Whether your learners are aviation enthusiasts or first-time aviation explorers, we hope these resources will ignite their imagination and open up a world of possibilities. We might be inspiring the next generation of pilots, astronauts, and engineers!

COVID-19 Update

At Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport, passenger safety is our top priority both in the air and in our terminals. We know you are receiving an overwhelming amount of information related to the COVID-19 outbreak, however, we feel it’s important for you to also stay informed on the safety measures in place at SHD and with our partners at United Airlines. Keep in mind, our flights to Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Washington Dulles (IAD) continue to run as scheduled, and every effort is being made to accommodate passengers in the event that flight changes are needed. Here are the precautionary measures SHD and United Airlines have implemented:

  • SHD has proactively increased our cleaning and disinfecting measures in the Airline and Corporate Terminals for all high-touch areas.
  • Hand sanitizing stations have been available in our terminals for some time, but our staff has increased efforts to monitor these stations and refill immediately when needed.
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC) infographics have been posted throughout our buildings reminding passengers, staff, and visitors of steps they should take to prevent the spread of viruses such as COVID-19.
  • United Airlines is disinfecting airplanes using high-grade cleaner. Following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regulations, if a passenger is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, the aircraft is taken out of service and thoroughly decontaminated.
  • United will also start using an electrostatic fogger to disinfect air and surfaces for all international arrivals.
  • It’s important to remember that United Airlines aircraft are equipped with state-of-the-art, hospital-grade air circulation systems that remove 99.7% of airborne particles.
  • To limit person-to-person contact, United flight attendants are wearing gloves during food service and avoiding repeat use of cups. United crews are provided with all necessary supplies to maintain good hygiene while safely serving passengers.

For passengers scheduled to fly between now and April 30th, travel waivers are in effect to allow itinerary changes with no fees regardless of where you’re traveling. Please note, this is in addition to the previous waiver, which waives all change fees for tickets booked between March 3rd and March 31st. For more information about change fee waivers and current United Airlines announcements about travel, click here.

We will continue to keep you informed through our social media channels about the COVID-19 response efforts at SHD and with United, as well as any flight changes, when additional information is available.

Tracking Santa’s Flight Around the World!

This week all eyes will be on the friendly skies for a glimpse of Santa’s sleigh! To make tracking Santa’s flight easier, you can use the same tools we do to keep tabs on the big guy on Christmas Eve. Our friends at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) are working hard to make sure everyone knows where Santa is during his flight around the world!

It all starts when radar indicates Santa has lifted off from the North Pole and then special satellites 22,300 miles above Earth begin to pick up Rudolph’s bright infrared nose. When Santa makes his way to North America NORAD fighter pilots in either CF-18’s, F-15’s, F-16’s or F-22’s greet him and his famous reindeer to escort the jolly group throughout Canada and the United States.

Because Santa’s sleigh is much faster than the fighter jets, he actually must slow down to be escorted! All of these systems work together to allow NORAD to track his whereabouts for the entire journey. It’s important to note that only Santa knows his exact route, but NORAD has observed that he tends to visit homes only after the children are asleep. Here are more interesting facts about Santa’s flight and how NORAD tracks him:

It’s estimated that Santa’s sleigh weights 75,000 gd (gumdrops) with 60,000 tons of presents. The propulsion is 9 rp (reindeer power) fueled by hay, oats, and carrots. With a climbing speed of One “T” (twinkle of an eye) and a max speed of faster than starlight, Santa’s sleigh remains a marvel of aviation.

A History of Tracking Santa
A happy accident prompted NORAD (formerly CONAD) to start tracking Santa! In 1955, Sears & Roebuck misprinted their hotline number for kids to call Santa. Instead, the phone number rang to the Continental Air Defense Command’s (CONAD) Commander-in-Chief hotline. Children were delighted to start receiving updates from CONAD about Santa’s suspected whereabouts when they called in, and thus the Santa Tracker tradition was born! Now more than 1,250 Canadian and American uniformed personnel and DOD civilian volunteers answer the thousands of calls and emails from children on December 24th and keep the world updated on Santa’s flight!

How to Track Santa
To join in on the fun, visit www.noradsanta.org or download the free NORAD Santa Tracker app for Android and iPhone. You can also contact NORAD directly with all your Santa flight questions at noradtrackssanta@outlook.com or 1-877-HI-NORAD (Call using Skype too!).

All of us at SHD wish you a joyous holiday season and many wonderful memories made with those you love. Thank you for trusting SHD and United/SkyWest to bring your family together during this magical time of year!

SHD Becomes the Official Airport of JMU!

Last week marked two important milestones at SHD! Not only did our new flights to Washington-Dulles (IAD) and improved schedule to Chicago O’Hare (ORD) start last Wednesday, but we have an exciting new partnership that’s making us feel very purple and gold!

On Thursday President Alger announced that Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD) is now the official airport of James Madison University! As President Alger remarked in his email to all faculty and staff, this partnership is a great example of how institutions of higher education can have an exponential impact on community growth as JMU strives to become the national model of the engaged university. He also pointed out the benefit of improved efficiency, productivity and cost savings for the university when considering total travel costs. As part of our partnership with JMU, you’ll also notice some changes happening in our terminal soon. We can’t wait to show you when the time comes!

A critical driver behind the additional flights and this new partnership with JMU is the work of the SHD Air Service Task Force. Chaired by Dr. Nicholas Swartz, associate dean of Professional and Continuing Education, Task Force Ambassadors work with many JMU programs and departments in addition to tourism, economic development and local higher education partners. Ambassadors represent Blue Ridge Community College, Rockingham County, City of Harrisonburg, James Madison University, Lantz Construction, Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center, Shenandoah Valley Partnership, Hotel Madison & Shenandoah Valley Conference Center, and Shenandoah Valley Technology Council.

Ambassadors are focusing their efforts on increasing awareness of SHD air service with one common message: incorporating SHD into your travel plans is critical for positive economic development efforts and enhanced quality of life. Ambassadors communicate regularly with JMU faculty/staff, alumni, travel agencies, event planners, local elected officials, and regional business and community leaders.

As Dr. Swartz explains, “This air service is critical for the future success of the University as we work to attract exceptional students, faculty and staff; engage with our constituents; and pursue JMU’s vision of being the national model of the engaged university.”

Since United/SkyWest started in April 2018, we’ve seen tremendous passenger growth and it’s extremely important that we continue this trend to secure our current level of service and add additional flights and connectivity in the future. We all know shopping with local small businesses during the holiday season (and year-round too) is important to the vitality of our community. Flying local is the same! Every flight taken from your local airport is a vote to the airlines on where travelers prefer to see more service and every vote counts!

Thank you to James Madison University for taking a leadership role in supporting local air service for the benefit of our entire region!  Go Dukes!


New United Express Flights Coming to Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport

Weyers Cave, Virginia, September 30, 2019 – The Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD) and SkyWest Airlines are pleased to announce two new United Express flights between Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), as well as schedule enhancements for current flights this December. These changes will continue to make it even easier and more convenient for Shenandoah Valley travelers to fly local.

The new flights to Washington Dulles will provide travelers greater flexibility thanks to a new mid-morning arrival from Washington, a new evening departure, and a new late-night flight back to the Shenandoah Valley. Flights to Chicago O’Hare International Airport will also be enhanced with a mid-morning departure from Shenandoah Valley. These improvements will help ensure maximum connection opportunities at both hubs and more convenient flight times for customers.

The new flight schedule* beginning December 4, 2019 is as follows:
*Flight schedule varies and is subject to change

“Response to our United Express jet service has been very favorable from the community and we are thrilled about this additional flight,” said Greg Campbell, Executive Director for the airport. “The community has demonstrated a commitment to supporting local air service and, as a result, we were able to work with SkyWest to enhance the schedule to better meet the needs of our travelers with a later departure and arrival into the Valley.”

“We’re pleased to bring these additional flights to the Shenandoah Valley,” said Greg Atkin, SkyWest Airlines managing director – Market Development. “Whether you’re traveling for work or with your family, this enhanced schedule provides access to destinations around the globe from two major United hubs; and we encourage every traveler to take advantage of it.”

Since the new United Express flights, operated by SkyWest, started in April 2018 there has been record growth at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport, including a 67% increase in passenger traffic year to date compared to 2018.

Customers may book flights immediately at united.com or by calling United Airlines reservations at 800.846.8331. Remember, the best fares are always available at united.com.


✈ Celebrating National Aviation Day ✈

Happy National Aviation Day – a day that we honor the history and continued advances in aviation! President Franklin Theodore Roosevelt first introduced National Aviation Day in 1939. The date of August 19th was chosen because it’s also the birthday of Orville Wright, who along with his brother Wilbur, made early advancements in powered flight.

In celebration of National Aviation Day, we’ve done a deep dive into the SHD historical archives to share with you the fascinating history of creating the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport. To begin the journey, we need to travel back to 1953 to a group of forward-thinking business and community leaders who were set on ushering in new economic growth for the region. At the time numerous small landing strips provided limited air access to the area. Members of the Airport Committee formed by the Staunton-Augusta Chamber of Commerce and led by Dr. A. Erskine Sproul, quickly recognized that an air transportation facility with significant capabilities was key in competing for larger economic development investments.

Knowing the far-reaching impact an airport could have, leaders from Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Staunton, and Augusta County joined forces to form the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport Commission in 1955 with Waynesboro joining a few years later. Together they identified Weyers Cave as the most mutually beneficial location for an airport with close access to a major highway and within easy reach of each locality. By March 14, 1957, the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport Commission broke ground on the site of the $600,000 Shenandoah Valley Joint Airport featuring a 100 by 4,000-foot paved airstrip. (Since that time our runway has been expanded to 150 by 6,002 feet.)

In just three short years, the Shenandoah Valley Airport was dedicated to the community on January 31, 1960 to much fanfare including a planned appearance of radio/television broadcaster and aviation enthusiast, Arthur Godfrey. Local newspapers reported the “largest congregation of automobiles ever assembled in Augusta County” – roughly 8,000 cars jammed on primary and secondary roads trying to get to Weyers Cave. An estimated 5,000 people actually made it to the celebration while Augusta County Sheriff’s Department and State Police had to turn many away who were stuck in the gridlock around the county.

Unfortunately, strong winds and ice disrupted plans for Mr. Godfrey to speak but he did make a quick stop at the airport right before the ceremony was to begin to congratulate leaders on “another milestone in the revolutionary industrial development of the Valley” and remarked on the “nice, beautiful facility”. Mr. Godfrey then hurriedly departed to get back to Leesburg Airport before the storm closed in.

One day later on February 1, 1960, the first scheduled commercial flight by Piedmont Airlines took off from the new airport on a Douglas DC-3, solidifying a new era of aviation for the Shenandoah Valley. The first air service included direct flights to Washington National Airport, now Reagan National Airport, and another flight that connected passengers to Roanoke, VA, Asheville, NC, and the Tri-Cities of Bristol, Kingsport, and Johnson City plus Knoxville in Tennessee.

Dr. A. Erskine Sproul continued to champion aviation advancement in the Shenandoah Valley. In August 1971 he was appointed to the Airport Commission as the City of Staunton representative and later became the Commission Chairman. In honor of his invaluable service, the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD) Airline Terminal was dedicated to Dr. A. Erskine Sproul on September 28, 1991.

Continuing the early vision of the founders of the airport, SHD remains dedicated to serving the community and providing a catalyst for economic development efforts in the region. It’s with a strong appreciation of our rich history and commitment to the future of aviation in the Shenandoah Valley that we celebrate National Aviation Day with all of you!

✈ Soar Into an Exciting New Career ✈

It is said that if you find a job that you love, you’ll never work another day in your life. If you dream of having your office in the sky instead of the corner cubical or on the road, Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) Commercial Pilot Certificate program and Blue Ridge Aviation could be your solution!

For career starters or career changers with dreams of flying high, the Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) Commercial Pilot Certificate program in partnership with Blue Ridge Aviation, provides local training towards exciting careers in aviation.

Blue Ridge Aviation offers ground school & flight training for multiple ratings required for aviation careers or hobby pilots. Training topics include advanced theory of flight covering navigation, air space, weather, flight planning, radio communication, aircraft systems and performance, and federal aviation regulations. Students will earn a minimum of 190 flight hours in the commercial pilot program. Blue Ridge Aviation offers flight instructor ratings that allow completed students to build flight hours while being paid to flight instruct right here in Weyers Cave. (Airline pilots need 1,500 hours of flight time prior to hiring.)

Besides fulfilling dreams of working in the sky, a career as a commercial pilot can be a sound financial decision once training is completed. Commercial Pilots earn a median income of $82,240 according to the most recent data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The current nationwide pilot shortage is expected to get even worse in coming years due to the high number of pilots reaching retirement age. This is a growing concern in the aviation industry creating more demand than ever for new pilots to enter the field. Now is a great time to get started on a career in aviation!

If the friendly skies are calling to you, contact Alex Kelley or Sarah Grefe at Blue Ridge Aviation 540-246-9407 (blueridgeaviaiton@gmail.com) or Suzie Dull, Business and Development Manager/Workforce and Continuing Education at BRCC 540-453-2337 (dulls@brcc.edu).

Inspiring a ❤️ for Flying in the Next Generation

Two-hundred women and girls from across Virginia gathered at SHD this past Saturday for the 5th Annual Women Can Fly event. Women Can Fly is a state-wide initiative in partnership with the Virginia Department of Aviation that offers women and girls of all ages a chance to experience and explore career paths and recreational opportunities in the aviation industry.

Did you know currently only 7% of pilots are women? Pilot shortages combined with under-representation of women in aviation makes Women Can Fly an important catalyst for inspiring future female pilots. SHD is one of only five Virginia airports hosting a Women Can Fly event this summer.

The highlight of the day was a chance to take to the friendly skies with a volunteer private pilot. Excitement was in the air as participants completed pre-flight training to learn about the physics of flight and important safety information. For many attendees, Women Can Fly provided their first opportunity to experience flying, and the occasion was commemorated with a special First Flight certificate.

Representatives from the Virginia Department of Aviation, Dynamic Aviation, Blue Ridge Aviation, the Blue Ridge Community College Aviation Maintenance Technology Program, AirCare5 Medevac, Shenandoah Valley Chapter of The Ninety-Nines, and the United States Air Force were also on-hand with information and aviation-related resources.

Check out what participants of Saturday’s event had to say about their Women Can Fly experience!

“I grew up around aviation with my dad being a pilot and my mom a flight attendant, but I honestly never thought it was a possible career path for me. I even attended an aviation camp with my brothers as a kid, but I was the only girl there. I didn’t start flight training until after I had already gotten a bachelor’s degree in another field, but now I am just a few months away from being a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI). I am always excited to share my love of flight with other females and Women Can Fly is a great way to do that!” – Rachel Riddler, Volunteer Pilot


My mom and I drove here from Haymarket to volunteer our time supporting females in aviation. I have been helping attendees get where they need to go for the pre-flight briefing today and then directing them to the flight sign up table. I wanted to get involved because I am a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol, and being in the air is the coolest feeling you will ever have!” – Carmen Duckenfield, age 16, Volunteer   

“The slogan “Women Can Fly” drew me into this event because, yes we can! I love the awareness of aviation opportunities for women this event shares. Today was my first small plane ride, and it was amazing!”– Stephanie Dean, Attendee

“This was a great opportunity for Calli to take her first flight ever. I’m really excited we could do this event together.”
– Chandra Shifflett, Attendee

My favorite part was seeing how small everything is from the air! It was really fun to get to learn about planes and then go take a real flight.” Calli Davis, age 10, Attendee

“I loved the flight. It’s such a different feeling taking off, especially because I’m scared of heights. But for some reason, I felt really safe in the airplane. Women Can Fly has a good message that females can be pilots, and it’s really cool to think about that.”
– Devon Wichael, age 13, Attendee

For media coverage and photos from the 2019 Women Can Fly event at SHD, visit our Facebook page by clicking here.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2019 Women Can Fly event and especially all the volunteer pilots who donate their time and knowledge to expose females to the joy of flight!

Career Opportunities are Knocking

What do you think of when it comes to flying? For most of us, it’s probably our most recent experience on a business trip or the next bucket list destination we’re dreaming about. But for any of our air travel to be possible, we must rely on the unsung heroes of aviation who ensure that every aircraft and all of its systems are working safely and effectively. Much like your local auto mechanic, aviation mechanics are responsible for all routine maintenance and repairs on airplanes and helicopters.

Through the Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program based at Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport, students in the Shenandoah Valley have a unique opportunity to train locally for lucrative, in-demand jobs in the aviation maintenance field.

If you were to take a behind-the-scenes tour of SHD, you’d encounter students of all ages and backgrounds enrolled in the BRCC AMT program pursuing a career that will lead them to work in private or commercial aviation, agriculture, manufacturing, the space industry, and more!

BRCC has also worked with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)  to offer several of their aviation programs online. In this case, approximately half of courses will be completed virtually and the hands-on (laboratory) training will be at the SHD location.

Graduates of either the on-site or virtual Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program are also eligible to take the FAA exams for a Mechanic’s Certificate with Airframe and Powerplant ratings. Historically, BRCC AMT graduates have a 100% pass rate on these certification exams.

Don’t just take our word for it, check out what others have to say about the career opportunities awaiting aviation maintenance technicians! (Videos courtesy of the WHSV InDemand series)

If the AMT program sounds like a great fit for you or your recent grad, BRCC is still accepting fall enrollments! For enrollment or program questions, contact Blue Ridge Community College at (540) 453-0264 or info@brcc.edu.

Next time we will be highlighting another great BRCC aviation program based at SHD… get those aviator glasses ready!

We Did It! And To Celebrate, You Could Win a $500 Travel Voucher!

Passengers boarding a plane.It’s hard to believe that this month marks one year since United (Operated by SkyWest Airlines) began offering service at SHD! As many of you have now experienced for yourselves, flying out of the Valley has never been more attractive.

We are in the mood to celebrate our success over the past year and offering free travel seems like an excellent way to do it. Stay tuned for information below on how you can enter to win $500 towards your next trip from SHD!

It’s difficult to comprehend how much of an impact that the new service has had over the course of the year but one thing is for sure – SkyWest has delivered on everything they promised to bring to our community, plus some. Their reliability has been impeccable. Passenger experiences have been A+.

And my very favorite part is that YOU have been able to travel to where you need to go within the United network easily and stress-free.

Since the partnership with SkyWest began, passenger traffic has increased 260% overall! With just nine months of the new service in 2018 we surpassed passenger traffic records held for nearly two decades and I’m happy to report 2019 is shaping up to be even better!

You can read more about the transformation we have experienced in the two articles below recently published by the Daily News Record.

Airport Sees Soaring Passenger Numbers (Published 4/6/19)

SVRA Finds Success with SkyWest (Published 4/9/19)

Pilot in front of plane.We’re incredibly excited about our partnership with SkyWest Airlines and want to thank you all for your support. The sky is truly the limit on what we can accomplish together, however, there is still work to be done. We as a community must continue to demonstrate that this region prefers local air service for the market to truly realize it’s full potential.

To that end, we are asking for your help. We want to hear from you regarding the service over the past year – what you like about it, how often you have flown with us and, just as importantly, why you may not have been able to take advantage of it.

This information is also very useful when we periodically meet with airlines so your feedback could have a direct effect on the future of air travel at SHD. And you can win a $500 travel voucher from your favorite airport… Did I mention that part?

Click here to take the survey!

THANK YOU for making the past 12 months a great first year for United service at SHD!