Teacher and principals take flight at air show

For Landstown High School astronomy teacher Ron Shaneyfelt and many people across the United States, Aug. 21 was a memorable date – the first time he saw a total solar eclipse.

Days later, on Aug. 25, Shaneyfelt learned about another life changing event – his selection to ride backseat in the No. 7 F-A/18 jet of the Navy’s elite flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels.

He added Sept. 12 to his list of memorable dates when he flew with the Blue Angels while they were in town for the Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana Air Show.

“Emotionally, it was a day that really touched me realizing I was lucky to be selected for a flight that few get to experience. I couldn’t stop smiling,” reflected Shaneyfelt days after the flight. “I get to use that experience for my students to not just talk about forces in my Astronomy class, I get to tell them of my personal experience and show them the videos of me in the aircraft. Ten years ago, my wife and I were part of a group of teachers onboard a ZERO-G flight, so I have now experienced both ‘ends of the spectrum’ with G-forces.”

“I wish there were words beyond amazing, awesome and cool to describe the feelings I had,” continued Shaneyfelt. “I will never see the Blue Angels fly in quite the same way as I will know what it looked like and how it felt with many of their trademark loops and rolls when I see the demonstration from ground level.”

He hopes his students will learn from the amazing opportunity he was given.

“The biggest thing I can always know and share with my students is to never think there is not a chance for amazing things to happen for them in their lives. Never in my life did I imagine I would sit in the backseat of a Blue Angels jet and go flying with one of their pilots! Everyone says that it is an impossible dream – well, I can now say that dreams can come true.”

“This year has given me two experiences I can’t forget and will share with others the rest of my life,” Shaneyfelt added. “I have always been passionate about Astronomy and this only makes my passion stronger.”

Two elementary school principals joined Shaneyfelt in having memorable moments in the sky courtesy of the 2017 NAS Oceana Air Show. Tara Brewer and Danielle Colucci were invited to join skydivers from Skydive Suffolk to make a unique entrance at the air show, Friday, Sept. 15, the same day all VBCPS fifth-graders attended STEM Lab Learning Day at NAS Oceana.

“I was so excited to be selected for this opportunity,” said Brewer, principal of Shelton Park Elementary. “Skydiving has been on my bucket list for quite some time. My excitement far exceeded my nervousness! Once we did our back flip out of the plane, I never felt like I was actually falling. I was flying, floating, soaring across the sky, and it was the most amazing, freeing feeling.”

Colucci, Luxford Elementary’s principal, credited the skydive team for keeping her calm.

“I was a little nervous the night before the jump because of the unknowns and I didn’t want to make any mistakes as there aren’t room for mistakes 8,200 feet up. I was actually pretty calm the day of the jump, especially after seeing the Skydive Suffolk team and how organized and specific they were in giving me instructions. I felt like I was in good hands.”

“The freefall was absolutely exhilarating! I loved it and the thrill of it! I was still excited afterward,” added Colucci. “I was proud I had tried something completely new to me and that I was given such a great life experience — one I’ll never forget!”

View more photos on the VBSchools Facebook page from the school division’s partnership with NAS Oceana for STEM Lab Learning Day.

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