Wilmington International Airport Hosts Inaugural Cape Fear General Aviation Day

ILM and area general aviation partners collaborated to put on the first Cape Fear General Aviation Day on April 30th.  The purpose of the event was to offer pilots, mechanics, and air traffic controllers safety and educational modules, networking opportunities, and to further advance the aviation community. Numerous event partners collaborated on the event such as the Wilmington International Airport, Aero Center Wilmington, the Cape Fear Flying Club, FAAST Safety Team, the ILM Pilots Association, Live Oak Bank, and Modern Aviation.

“ILM is dedicated to supporting and growing our general aviation community and we were pleased to host this inaugural event,” stated Nick Rhodes, Jr., Airport Authority member and Chair of the General Aviation Committee.  “I was impressed by the presenters, the participation by the members of the audience, and the engagement of the overall general aviation community.  It was a fantastic event!” 

Educational modules included sessions by the Federal Aviation Administration Safety Team (FAASTeam), the head of flight operations for Live Oak Bank, as well as a pilot & controller forum facilitated by the local FAASTeam Representatives. Lunch included a presentation by special guest speaker Mark Grady.

At the event, on behalf of the FAA, Dan Kelly, FAASTeam Program Manager, presented a Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award to Mr. Gary R. Church.  The prestigious award recognizes those that have 50 or more years of civil and military piloting experience or 50 or more years combined experience in both piloting and aircraft operations.

“We were glad ILM invited the entire FAAST team to participate.  It was nice to have the Program Managers and representatives involved in the first inaugural Cape Fear General Aviation Day,” stated Dan Kelly FAASTeam Program Manager. 

Further, a special announcement was made at the event, sharing the next branch of the Coach Bill Dooley Education Foundation, with the creation of a $100,000 endowment to start a “Spirit of Aviation Scholarship Fund.”  The goal of the scholarship fund is to provide training reimbursement directly to approved facilities offering flight training to scholarship recipients up to $10,000 through an annual scholarship with the goal of providing area high school students this opportunity in perpetuity.  The Coach Bill Dooley Education Foundation Board of Directors will provide oversight of the program with an aviation committee providing support and guidance to help achieve the goals related to fundraising, public education, outreach, and follow through with scholarship recipients.  The goal is to award the first $10,000 scholarship by fall of 2022.  Coach John Bunting, Chairman of the Dooley Foundation stated, “The Coach Bill Dooley Education Foundation is honored to partner with Wilmington International Airport on the “Spirit of Aviation Scholarship Fund” and endowment.  As Bill always said…it is all about the kids.”

Attendees at the Cape Fear General Aviation Day contributed funds to the Spirit of Aviation scholarship through an onsite silent auction and donations, raising nearly $5,000.  The day itself was considered a success with approximately 200 members of the general aviation community in attendance.  Jeff Bourk, ILM Airport Director shared, “We are excited the General Aviation community was able to come together for training and collaboration and also collectively work together to create the Spirit of Aviation scholarship fund.” 

Wilmington International Airport plans to collaborate with the general aviation community to organize the Cape Fear General Aviation Day twice a year, with the next event tentatively held in the fall of 2022.  You can learn more about the event and future plans at https://flyilm.com/generalaviationday/

Erin McNally
Marketing, Air Service Development, & PR Manager


About the Wilmington International Airport: The Wilmington International Airport serves southeastern North Carolina with commercial air service on American Airlines, Avelo Airlines, Delta, and United.  These air carriers provide nonstop service to twelve markets, connecting travelers to over 360 destinations.  Most recently, Avelo Airlines announced new nonstop service between ILM and Orlando (MCO), New Haven (HVN), and Baltimore Washington International (BWI).The NCDOT Division of Aviation’s 2020 report estimated ILM’s economic impact at $2.25 billion and 16,385 jobs.  For more information on ILM, please visit flyILM.com