Fairmont State University and the Fairmont State Aviation Center of Excellence honored Fairmont native and donor to the University, David McRobie, at a press conference and dedication ceremony on Friday.
McRobie donated his personal aircraft to the University this spring, expanding the aviation program's fleet along with its capacity for training aspiring pilots. The exchange was made under one condition presented by McRobie; the aircraft would spend the entirety of its operating life training students to fly.
McRobie made his grand entrance when he was flown in from the Fairmont Airport in the aircraft to be dedicated, then the plane was taxied into the hangar to launch the event program.
During the press conference, Joel Kirk, Fairmont State Aviation Center of Excellence Director and Chief Pilot, described the aircraft donation as “miraculous fate.”
“Mr. McRobie outlined the criteria, and simply requested that his plane spend the rest of its operating life training students to fly. That was his passion – teaching young adults to fly, and I assured him that’s exactly what his airplane will do. There’s no better place for it than right here in his hometown.”
McRobie enlisted in the United States Air Force in April 1955, stationed in locations ranging from Texas to Thailand throughout his tenure, and actively served until 1976 upon retiring as a Senior Master Sergeant. McRobie earned his private pilot’s license while stationed at the Grissom Air Force Base in Indiana. McRobie later became instrument rated, and was an active private pilot for 46 years. McRobie currently serves as a member of the Civil Air Patrol.
“David McRobie’s gift is huge, but even larger is his ‘Falcon Heart,’” said Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University President. “With this gift, David has greatly enhanced our ability to educate the aviation professionals of tomorrow. His gift will directly impact numerous aviation students in the years to come, and will carry countless dreams as student after student uses his aircraft and learns to soar.”
The University also recognized six student recipients of the Don Judy Commercial Flight Scholarship established for Fairmont State students seeking their commercial pilots license. Judy is a long-time aviator, and earned his private pilot license in 1962. In 2010 he received the Wilbur Wright Award for having been accident-free for 50 years, along with the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award in 2016 for 50 years of service as an airframe and powerplant mechanic. Judy has also been inducted into the West Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame.
“The Donald Judy West Virginia Aviation Scholarship aspires to carry on and manifest Mr. Judy’s love for aviation well into future generations,” Kirk said. “The intent of this scholarship is to provide assistance and inspiration to an aspiring, exceptional and promising flight student from and within his home state of West Virginia.”
The 2021 Don Judy Scholarships were awarded to six West Virginia natives including:
- Alexander Cronin – Mineral Wells, WV
- Jace Edwards – Letart, WV
- Alexander Ellis – Elkins, WV
- Victoria Grace – Bunker Hill, WV
- Garrett Remaly – Teays Valley, WV
- Cade Tenney – Clarksburg, WV
“Individuals like Dave and Don that give like this are the people that make flying a possibility for some students, who otherwise might not be able to afford it,” Kirk added. “These ‘reach backs’ help us keep costs down as much as possible, so that we can then pass that on to students. The greatest career on earth is expensive – those of us that have and are living it somewhere along the way had someone help us, and these men are carrying on that tradition."
To learn more about the Fairmont State Aviation program, visit www.fairmontstate.edu/aviation.