HAMPTON, Va. (August 14, 2020) – The Tidewater Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. conducted its 1st Summer Drone Camp for 18 middle-school students primarily from Hampton and Newport News with some Youths also hailing from York County and Suffolk.
Newport News based Gethsemane Baptist Church hosted the event as the training occurred inside its gymnasium. The Drone Camp was designed to teach these young people to operate Drones or the more technical name Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs).
One of the Guest Speakers at the camp was MSgt Nicole Valentine who is beginning her transition and retiring from the Air Force after 20 years of honorable service. I was so pleased to hear that she will be joining the staff at Hampton University in the Fall working in the Department of Aviation. MSgt Valentine comes to Hampton University with an impressive background in Air Traffic Control, Acquisition Program Management and is a Certified Program Management Professional.
In 2005, she was selected as the top Air Traffic Controller while assigned to the Pacific Air Force Command, United States Air Force! Her skills were in such great demand as she was handpicked to track air space during the Air Force’s coveted Red Flag Exercises…one of several Air Force Weapons Meet competitions that evolved from the 1st Top Gun-style Weapons Meet that the Tuskegee Airmen won in 1949 (also the equivalent of the Navy’s Top Gun competition). It pits the best pilots in the Air Force against each other in the desert terrain of Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
When she was not being an Air Traffic Controller, she serves as a Program Manager for the $309M Aviation Command & Control Operations & Maintenance (ACCOM) program. MSgt Valentine is looking forward to bringing her skills to Hampton University where she will be collaborating with several Universities in the area on UAS management (drones, submarines, boats, trucks, etc.).
One can only begin to wrap their minds around these un-manned aerial systems and vehicles roaming the highway, waterways, and air space of our Country. I am grateful for MSgt Valentine and the skills she possesses. UAS systems cannot operate safely without a cadre of talented professionals to monitor, track and direct those systems working in road, water, and the air space.
I am excited for the Hampton University students, and our “Home By The Sea” which is growing with the changes in technology.
LTC ( R) Claude Vann, III LT COL( R) Terrence J. Spann
Class of 1977 USAF