Hey everyone! I want to start out with a little introduction of myself. My name is James Dingell, and I am headed into my junior year at Embry-Riddle in the Business Administration degree program with a focus on Air Transportation. I am happy to have the opportunity to write for the program and hopefully give you a glimpse of what it is like to be a student at Embry-Riddle.
I am from Oak Hill, Virginia – about 20 miles west of DC, where I have lived all my life. If you have been to the area, you know that we have a ton of history and activities year round… which is great. Since I can remember, I have had a major interest in cars and airplanes. In 2003, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center – Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum at nearby Dulles Airport opened its doors, and I was one of the first persons through the doors at a private preview. Since then, I began volunteering at the age of 14 with the Education Department where I did many events and activities with the public.
The largest is the annual Fly-In “Become a Pilot Family Day” where we have had more than 100 aircraft from all different backgrounds attend. At nearly the same time, I began working at Dulles Jet Center, a private aircraft facility at Washington Dulles International Airport. As a line service worker I was exposed to the great world of business aviation. I had known since middle school that I wanted to attend ERAU, but my high school classes combined with my work at Dulles Jet Center made me quickly focus towards Business and the business aviation industry.
Getting closer to graduating high school, I made it my goal to have my Private Pilot Certification before coming down to Embry-Riddle. After a long winter packed with cold weather and snow… July 20, 2009 came and with it came my check ride. Mission Accomplished! High school also brought with it a new look towards my future in aviation. I created Dulles Jet Management, a sales/management company that specializes in corporate aircraft. I have continued to grow the company, now listing a total of 4 aircraft.
My freshman and sophomore years at Riddle were packed full of memories that I wouldn’t have had at a different school. The first thing you will notice is the weather. It gives you more opportunities to get out and do things, even in the winter months when your friends are stuck in their dorms back north with snow on the ground. The friends you meet freshman year will become some of your best friends. To this day, we pull out our sectional charts and find a new place to fly to and explore on weekends. That is one of the perks of having a ramp packed full of Cessna’s and good weather (for the most part).
Of course not everything has to do with airplanes, aviation and being pilots. Daytona Beach has a ton to offer off campus. Being so close to the Daytona International Speedway, I have attended the Rolex 24 Hour race, Daytona 500, Nationwide Series and club sponsored race weekends each year. This is a great plus for me since I am really into cars and automotive-related events.
The Daytona 500 is a huge event for the Daytona Beach area. I was able to get a unique perspective of the 500 this year working at SheltAir Aviation – Daytona, the FBO over at the airport, where we had several hundred… yes several hundred airplanes ranging in sizes. Both working at Dulles Jet Center and SheltAir has given me contacts in the industry that I will have when it comes time to graduate, you will notice networking is a key to success in the aviation industry. Working during the Daytona 500 gave me the chance to see and meet drivers, crews and owners.
Over the past two years we have made plenty of trips back and forth from Orlando to visit Disney World and Universal Studios. My roommate Pete and I went down to Disney World last August and purchased our Annual Park Pass that gave us access to the Disney Parks year round. It is a great feeling to work through the week with classes and course work knowing that your hard work during the week will lead to a stress free weekend of fun at Disney World. Now, I want to say that I thought at first that having the ability to go down to Disney so often would wreck the experience – boy was I wrong, it takes me back to my childhood visit of the parks. You don’t want to sit around the dorm room and play your Playstation or Xbox 360 – remember we are in Florida… get out there and have fun. v
So, by now you are probably wondering what I do when I leave Florida. I decided to stay a few extra days in Daytona to finish moving from the dorm to my new apartment. My friend Pete and I decided to move off campus for the next two years. This summer, I have now returned home to Virginia where I am continuing my volunteering and work combined with several big trips. I didn’t waste too much time; I arrived home on a Thursday and was back at the airport Friday morning for a day trip down to Wikesboro, North Carolina with my dad and friends.
As I mentioned earlier, I am interested in cars in aircraft, I have several car and air shows to attend around the country. I will be in Boston for a week in July for the National Buick Club of America car show and Oshkosh towards the end of the month for AirVenture. A good friend and fellow Embry-Riddle student, Eric and I are flying from Winchester, VA (KOKV) to Oshkosh, WI (KOSH) in a Cessna 182 Turbo for the EAA AirVenture show. It is the first time I am attending Oshkosh so I am very excited. It will be a great week of camping, airplanes, friends and memories. Other trips include several trips to Pennsylvania and other states and several trips to Nationals Park for MLB action.
Well, that pretty much sums up a lot about me and my future plans for the summer. If you have any questions with regards to ERAU, student life or anything, don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail or via Facebook. I will be sure to keep you all posted on summer events and my travels.