✈ 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!

New ID Requirements for Flying

Some upcoming travel changes are quickly approaching that will affect everyone that flies! Beginning on October 1st, 2020, federal regulations will require a new form of identification for boarding domestic flights called a REAL ID. Although there is plenty of time ahead before that change is made, we want to ensure that travelers who rely on us to get them where they’re going remain as informed as possible.

That’s why we’re having representatives from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles on hand to answer any and all questions about REAL ID.


DATE: Thursday, April 4th
TIME:   12pm-5pm *Come by anytime during these hours
WHERE: SHD Airline Terminal

Prior to the event, we also wanted to field some frequently asked questions about what this regulatory change is going to mean for travelers in Virginia.

What is REAL ID?

REAL ID is a new federally standardized method of issuing identification. In the state of Virginia, newly issued driver’s licenses and identifications from the DMV offer you the option of being REAL ID compliant.

After October 1, 2020, all Americans will be required to show REAL ID compliant credentials before boarding a domestic flight or entering certain federal buildings. An unexpired US Passport will also allow residents to board a domestic flight.

How do I know if my current Virginia’s Driver’s Licenses and ID cards are REAL Compliant?

You can check to see if your current ID is compliant by looking for a small black star in the upper right-hand corner. If the star is there, you’re in the air.

How do I apply for a REAL ID compliant license or ID card?

Receiving your REAL ID compliant identification is similar to the current driver’s license/ID Card application process. Simply go to your local DMV to apply in person and be sure to present physical documentation of:

  • Identity (e.g. an unexpired US passport of US birth certificate)
  • Legal Presence (e.g. an unexpired US passport of US birth certificate)
  • Social Security Number (must include the full number; e.g. Social Security card or a W-2 form)
  • Residency (two proofs are required and each must include your current residential street address; e.g. current driver’s license, voter registration card, utility bills, mortgage statements or rental lease agreement)
  • Proof of any name changes (e.g. marriage certificates)

This seems like a lot. Where can I find more information?

If you are unable to make our REAL ID event on April 4th from 12pm-5pm in the SHD Airline Terminal, we encourage you to check out dmvNOW.com/REALID for more information, including the entire list of documents that will be accepted in order to issue a REAL ID. DMV also has a really great interactive Document Guide to assist you in choosing exactly what documents you will personally bring to apply.

It is important to us that you’re able to travel as smoothly as possible through our airport. We want to do everything we can to arm you with information about this change in federal policy and hope that you will accept our invitation to find out more in person during our REAL ID information session on April 4th!

2nd Annual Run the Runway 5K + Kids Fun Run – Register NOW!

Greetings Valley Traveler!

Lace up your sneakers and gather your friends and family – registration opened TODAY for the 2nd Annual Run the Runway 5K + Kids Fun Run at SHD on April 13th!

The Run the Runway 5K is a family-friendly event beginning with a 1K Fun Run for children ages 3-12 at 8:30 am and a 5K on the taxiway and runway beginning at 9:00 AM. This professionally chip-timed event will offer a unique race opportunity on a real airport runway making it a perfect fit for runners, walkers and families at all fitness levels. The course is flat and completely paved making it stroller and wheelchair friendly.*

All proceeds from the Run the Runway 5K + Kids Fun Run will benefit the Explore More Museum’s aviation exhibit where children can learn about the many aspects of aviation including hands-on experience as a pilot, aircraft mechanic, air traffic controller, and passenger.

Through a partnership with Dynamic Aviation, the Explore More Museum has already installed a King Air fuselage as the anchor piece of this exhibit. Our Run the Runway 5K raised over $10K in 2018 and assisted in the installation of an air traffic control tower (shell only) and a partial airline terminal component of the exhibit.

Funds raised from the 2019 event will enable further development of this space including internal components of the air traffic control tower, a mock TSA screening area in the airline terminal and a hands-on aircraft maintenance component. We feel strongly this exhibit has the power to inspire the children of today to be our aviation workforce of tomorrow!

For more information about the Explore More Museum, visit www.iexploremore.com or sign up to participate in the Run the Runway 5K + Kids Fun Run here. Take advantage of early bird pricing until March 15th!

Can’t participate in the event but would like to be involved? We are looking for event sponsors too! Click here to learn more.

Love is in the air at SHD!

Love is in the air for Valentine’s Day, and we’re counting the ways we L-O-V-E all of our SHD travelers! From rallying behind the new United service powered by SkyWest to helping us break a 20-year old record for monthly passenger traffic, we are honored to be your airport of choice. In fact, check out these “love letters” we’ve received from local travelers just in time for Valentine’s Day!


Dear SHD,

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and all of your staff from lovely and warm Charleston, SC! After a successful week of teaching at the Sheriff”s office, I am so looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!  I must say, flying for business is so much less stressful now that United and SkyWest have come to town. With connections to both Dulles and O’Hare, I can get to my classes that are scattered all over the US with fewer layovers and less wasted time.  Just getting to the airport is easy, no drives over foggy mountains or (gasp!) to northern Virginia! Plus, nice people to talk to at the airport and no long lines to check in. And when I get back after my trip, I just grab my bag, find my keys, and go.  No stops to pay tolls or parking fees which just keep going up! It’s like buying a plane ticket for my car! Life is good when you travel SHD!  See you tomorrow!

Charlotte Robinson, DVM


Dear SHD,

Traveling every week for ESPN, I have a “love” affair with SHD!  I have FREE parking, friendly employees, and TSA and staff to greet me each week.  Flying through Washington Dulles or Chicago O’Hare, I can get anywhere in the country without driving two hours.  Recently, I was able to cash in my United miles for a ski trip to Bozeman, Montana. SHD is convenient with reasonable airfare that doesn’t break my “heart” or wallet! So, if you want to make an impression on your sweetheart, book a getaway from SHD today!

David Gallatin
EVS/ Replay Operator

Dear SHD,

As the Executive Director of the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship here at James Madison University I have a monumental challenge. I want to show that the Shenandoah Valley can produce as good or better student startup companies when compared with Silicon Valley. SHD is an important partner in answering this challenge!

Early this fall, we held an event for Women Entrepreneurship Week. We had two Founder CEOs, a Managing Partner, and a Founder of a Venture Capital company. These women executives flew from CT, Chicago, and NYC. They were all able to fly in the day of the talk and fly out early the next day.  Such seamless and timely transportation is paramount for such high-quality executive speakers.

Often, I need to fly for a conference and give a speech on our work here at JMU. This fall I needed do so for a conference that was in Chicago. The direct flight was the best-ever. In my personal life, my children reside in Connecticut, and my fiancé is an entrepreneur owning her own high-end interior designer business operating out of New York City. Having SHD ten minutes away from our Harrisonburg home is great, as we no longer have to deal with Dulles or Reagan National and the corresponding logistical nightmare that is NOVA traffic and parking!!!!

My fiancé Bridget has made fast friends with many of the TSA agents, all of whom who are so nice, professional, and welcoming.  During the government shutdown there were tales of many airports operating less than efficiently during that time, but Bridget and I flew to Florida for some needed R&R and sunshine. Everyone at SHD was a true delight.  To receive prompt service, a smile, and a warm greeting at such a time shows how incredible everyone at SHD really is. We look forward to utilizing SHD for years to come.

Patrick McQuown
Executive Director
Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship at James Madison University

SHD to the Rescue for Father’s Day!

Working at SHD, we get to see a lot of special travel moments – a child excited about their first “big plane” flight, reunions with out of town friends and families, and excited teams off to play their next big game!

Business travel can be a little different though. As busy professionals, it can be hard to balance work, travel, and the important family moments that you don’t want to miss.  So, when we heard the following story about how SHD helped save Father’s Day for one busy business traveler, we just had to share it.

We love providing reliable service to all our travelers, and we especially love knowing that the benefits of flying local put those “don’t want to miss moments within reach” for those on the go.

Meet Kevin Ratliff…
Some of you may know Dr. Kevin Ratliff as the Dean of Workforce & Continuing Education at Blue Ridge Community College. However, Dr. Ratliff’s favorite “official” title is that of dad. As luck would have it, a business trip to Nashville was scheduled for Father’s Day – a situation that would have resulted in missing his Father’s Day dinner tradition if he flew into another airport and had to drive the long commute back home. Instead, Dr. Ratliff flew with SHD and was home in time for his special dinner with the family!

As Dr. Ratliff puts it, “Being able to get back home without being exhausted and spend the later part of the day with my son and wife on  Father’s Day really meant a lot to us.  I had some special steaks in the freezer and called my son ahead and told him to set them out because I saw I was going to make it home in time.  Being able to fly directly into SHD made this possible and kept me from having to spend time either in another airport or on the road driving.  I am loving this new service!”

A happy business traveler and a happy dad – it doesn’t get better than that!

27.6 million pounds later…

When you think of snow, a day off from work or a cozy day inside might come to mind. At SHD, we think of snow a little differently. Our #1 concern is always safety and decreasing the impact of winter weather on operations. It’s a big job! Can you imagine if your driveway was 6,002 feet long – the length of our runway?!
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at some interesting facts and figures when it comes to managing snow at SHD!

Snow Removal By the Numbers

  • This area of Virginia averages 23 inches of snowfall a year.
  • 1” of snow equals on average 1 lb. of snow per square foot.
  • SHD’s runway is 6002’ long and 150’ wide. The adjacent taxiway is 6002’ long and 50’ wide. That is the equivalent to a 20-lane highway that stretches over 1 mile long!
  • The total square footage of the runway and taxiway is over 1.2 million square feet.
  • 23” inches on average of snowfall a year with 1.2 million square feet of pavement equals OVER 27.6 MILLION POUNDS of snow moved each year to keep YOU on schedule and getting wherever it is that you need to go!

The Snow Removal Strategy
During snow and other winter weather, our team is responsible for maintaining a safe operating area for aircraft by clearing runways, taxiways, and other surfaces. The airport has snow removal operations “airside” (runways, taxiways, and ramp areas) and “landside” (parking lots, and additional roads).

The SHD Snow Removal Team
SHD has approximately 20 trained snow removal personnel. Personnel experience is key to the success of each winter weather event. Majority of our personnel has over 10+ years of experience – several have over 20 years of experience!

Our Equipment 
SHD has approximately 15 pieces of equipment to handle both “airside” and “landside” operations. The equipment includes blowers, brooms, blades, plows, and spreaders. In 2017, SHD acquired two multi-task machines that can plow, sweep, and blow snow at the same time.

Each of these machines has a 20 ft. snow plow, an 18 ft. high-speed tow behind broom that spins upwards of 500 RPMs, and air blowers that blows air at speeds over 300 MPH! Below is a list of some other equipment that SHD uses to keep the airport going during winter weather.

  • 2 Volvo L60E Front End Loaders. Each of these includes a snow blower, ramp plow, and broom attachments.
  • Ventrac 4500Z 4×4 with a broom, snow plow, snow blower, and granulate spreader for the parking lots and sidewalks
  • Various other vehicles with snow plows for both landside and airside operations.

Click here to see a piece of our newest equipment in action last weekend!

As you can see, a lot goes into snow removal efforts at an airport! We are proud to say Team SHD is the best of the best at keeping your local airport open and operational. Next time the snow starts to fall, rest assured that we’re doing everything possible to keep your travel plans safe and seamless!

Make 2019 Your Best Year of Travel!

Happy New Year Valley Travelers!

I hope you had a wonderful time ringing in 2019! Resolutions go hand-in-hand with the start of a new year, so we thought we would help you to make some great travel-related resolutions with the four suggestions below. Make lasting memories, streamline your business travel, travel like a pro, and reward yourself with a springtime getaway – read on to see how!

1. Visit at least one bucket list destination this year!
Are you dreaming of a tropical getaway, an epic adventure, or a visit with a faraway loved one? Don’t put off the dream any longer! SHD can help get you to your dream destination through two major hubs – Chicago O’Hare and Washington Dulles.

In fact, Chicago O’Hare is ranked #1 in the U.S. for flight connectivity with 81,913 one-stop domestic flights and over 128 daily direct flights to 50 international destinations!

Plus, United offers 30 daily nonstop flights from Dulles to 30 international destinations as well as 195 daily domestic flights to 74 airports across the United States. Our in-house fare specialists even provide free booking assistance to help you plan your trip. Simply call 540-234-8304 x2.

We’re not just in the travel business; we’re in the making lifelong memories business. Let’s get you where you want to go in 2019!

2. Start enjoying your business travel.
Get back the minutes that tick away while you sit traffic, stand in long security lines, and fight crowds to get to your gate. Choosing SHD saves you valuable time, makes travel less stressful and gets you back to your family sooner! Want to know what your out-of-town airport is costing you in terms of time? Check out our True Cost Calculator!

3. Travel like a pro with United MileagePlus and TSA Precheck.
United Airlines app
Put the power of a personal travel assistant in your pocket with the United Airlines app! Give yourself the (free) gift of real-time flight status alerts, mobile check-in, baggage tracking, and more through one convenient app.

United MileagePlus Program
Earn miles while you fly and for everyday purchases from participating stores and keep track of them all in the United Airlines app! Use your miles for flights, rental cars, hotels, and exclusive experiences. Already a member of another frequent flyer program? No problem! Check out United’s MileagePlus Premier Status Match Program to see how you can instantly get comparable perks from United.

TSA Precheck
SHD offers TSA Precheck on select flights! Keep your shoes on, your laptop in your bag, liquids sealed up, and more. With average wait times of less than 5 minutes, TSA Precheck saves you time and stress. Click here to apply today! (Remember, even with TSA Precheck, you’ll need to arrive one hour before your flight.)

4. Take a long weekend to relax and recharge!
Give yourself a boost after a long winter with a spring trip to one of the most famous cities in the world – Chicago! Epic architecture, arts & culture, cuisine, and more await you in Chi-town. Our non-stop, roundtrip flights to Chicago start at just $210. Click here to book your flight today!

Whatever your travel goals for 2019, we’re here to help! We appreciate all of you that made SHD your airport of choice in 2018, helping to make it a record-breaking year for passenger traffic! If you haven’t tried SHD yet, we invite you to experience all that we have to offer this year.