2017 Alumni of the Year
Karl D. Stoltzfus, Sr. '58
With more than 50 years of experience in the aviation industry, Karl D. Stoltzfus, Sr. is an accomplished aviator, creative problem solver and pioneer in developing custom aviation solutions for commercial and government aircraft applications. Stoltzfus began his aviation career as a partner in his father’s aviation company, Chris D. Stoltzfus and Associates of Coatesville, Pennsylvania. During this time, he was responsible for aerial spray programs to control gypsy moths in North America and was instrumental in designing, building and installing various spray systems for the aircraft.
In 1967, Karl and his twin brother Ken left their father’s business to attend Eastern Mennonite College in Harrisonburg, Virginia where they began K&K Aircraft to help cover school expenses. Stoltzfus graduated in 1972 with a B.A. in Business Administration, and in 1974 he purchased a small airport in nearby Bridgewater to start an aerial spraying business. In 1992, Stoltzfus developed an air charter division and released the first sterile insects to control, and in some cases eradicate, various pests such as the Mediterranean Fruit Fly.
K&K Aircraft expanded operations and became Dynamic Aviation in 1997, where Karl Stoltzfus serves as the founder and chairman. Dynamic Aviation is the leading provider of innovative special-mission aviation solutions to government and commercial organizations worldwide. Headquartered in Bridgewater, Virginia, the company employs approximately 600 aviation professionals and owns over 150 multi-engine turbine aircraft. In addition to running the Virginia base, Stoltzfus supports his worldwide operations with 20 bases in 10 countries on four continents.
Dynamic Aviation delivers world-class aviation solutions that combine mission-modified aircraft, experienced flight crews and comprehensive maintenance services to deliver customized aerial assets supporting a wide range of customers in airborne data acquisition, public health and safety. Their maintenance and modification center includes welding, machine, sheet metal and avionics shops for maintaining and modifying his own fleet of 150 aircraft as well as modifying other aircraft for specialized missions. In 2015, Dynamic Aviation purchased the historic Columbine II, a Lockheed Constellation aircraft and the first, “Air Force One” that flew President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953-1954. Stoltzfus leads the multi-year venture to restore this important piece of America’s history back to presidential configuration for teaching future generations.
An accomplished aviator with more than 6,000 hours total time as pilot-in-command in multiple aircraft operations throughout the United States, Stoltzfus holds a commercial pilot’s license, a multi-engine rating, instrument rating and a DC-3 type rating. In the early 60’s, he flew a Cessna 180 on floats and skis for a missionary organization in Northwestern Ontario for about a year, and has a heart for using aircraft to aid missionary organizations.
He currently serves on the board of Mission Aviation Fellowship, a nonprofit organization that operates approximately 100 aircraft to provide humanitarian and mission work around the world. He has also served as board vice chair of JAARS/Wycliffe Bible Translators, board chair of Wingfield Ministries, board member of the Harrisonburg Rotary Club, board member for Summit Bank in Harrisonburg, VA, and board member for Mission Aviation Fellowship International, based in the United Kingdom.
In 1999, Dynamic Aviation received the USDA Small Business Contractor of the Year award. In 2006, Stoltzfus received the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year award and was also inducted into the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame. The following year, in 2007, the Virginia Senate commended him for his significant contribution to Aviation in Virginia. In 2008, he and his wife Barbara were the Rockingham/Harrisonburg Multiple Sclerosis honorees of the year. Karl, Barbara, and Dynamic Aviation earned the Corporate Philanthropy Award for the greater Shenandoah Valley area in 2010. In 2015, the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Aviation presented him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“There were many significant benefits of attending LMH,” Stoltzfus said. “The values of honesty and integrity learned here have been a wonderful benefit to me in both my personal and business experience. Our company does business all over the world, and those values are one of the major reasons for our success.”
“Being taught about the Bible and God’s plan for our lives gave me a great spiritual foundation. Most important was the encouragement for continued growth in my walk with Jesus. In my heart, I clearly know what I would have been without those LM years, and it would not have been good. I am most grateful for my experience here.”
Barbara Beiler Stoltzfus '59
Barbara Beiler Stoltzfus has been by Karl’s side through all these endeavors and has played a significant role in the success of Dynamic Aviation as office manager, vice president of finance, chief financial officer and vice president of human resources. At the same time, she served on the boards of directors for numerous organizations related to health and education, garnering several awards for outstanding leadership and community service.
As a young Amish girl in Honey Brook, PA, she determined that she was going to break Amish tradition and seek education beyond eighth grade – and perhaps even further. While appreciating farm work as a worthy occupation, she was inspired to do more in life. At the time, she did not know that her opportunity would come when her family left the Amish community and moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
After she attended the public school up until ninth grade in Maryland, her parents felt that, if she wanted to get a high school diploma, it ought to be at Lancaster Mennonite School. Consequently, they made the 90-minute trek to Lancaster where she enrolled as a five-day dormitory student.
Although she was not initially enthusiastic about going to a new school, she made new friends and, by her junior year was happy to be at LM. One of the friends she made was Karl Stoltzfus, who started to ease some of her parents’ transportation burden by taking her home on weekends.
Along with the good friends she made, Stoltzfus came to appreciate that the values taught at LM were the same her parents tried to instill in her at home. Among those values was, “Whatever you do, do it well.”
Stoltzfus also had the opportunity to develop leadership skills that would serve her well in the future. The former LM class treasurer would eventually be the CFO of a large company and the leader of several boards of directors.
When she graduated from LM, the world of finances was not on her mind except for how to fund her desire to be a registered nurse. Working in a shoe store to put herself through the Milford Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Milford, DE, she graduated in 1963. The same year, she and Karl were married, and she worked at Coatesville Hospital until her first child was born.
In 1967 she accompanied Karl to Harrisonburg, VA, where she worked nights as a nurse while he attended Eastern Mennonite University. When they bought the Bridgewater airport and Karl was starting his aviation business, she took accounting and business courses at EMU so she could help the fledgling enterprise take wings.
While working with business finances, she still found time to be involved with the Parent-Teacher Fellowship at Eastern Mennonite High School where her children attended eventually becoming the PTF President. Becoming PTF President led to an invitation to serve on the board, and serving on the board led to being elected board chair.
Eastern Mennonite High School was the first of many boards on which she would serve: Eastern Mennonite University, United Way of Harrisonburg, Harrisonburg Community Foundation, Bridgewater College, Virginia State Hospital and Healthcare Association and Rockingham Memorial Hospital as well as the Regional Council and National Governance Committee of the American Hospital Association. She served on the Rockingham Memorial Hospital board for 12 years, 6 as chair. Under her leadership, a new hospital was constructed and transitioned into the Sentara RMH Medical Center. Barbara currently serves on the boards of Harrisonburg Rockingham Free Clinic and Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community.
Asked why she rose to board leadership so often, Stoltzfus said, “I brought a sense of hearing what everyone had to say, and I wanted everyone to feel free to voice an opinion.” She felt that she was able to build consensus among diverse perspectives: “It was my goal to have everyone move forward together.”
Stoltzfus shares her husband’s values and desire to “give back” to the community, and both have made a significant impact through their service and philanthropy.
Karl and Barbara have three adult children and seven grandchildren. They are active members of First Presbyterian Church in Harrisonburg, VA.