Scholarship honors memory of student pilot teen

July 8, 2010

Courtney Anne Diacont never got the chance to fulfill her goal of earning her private pilot certificate, but her love of aviation lives on in a scholarship that gives another young person a chance to further his flight training.

The Courtney Anne Diacont Memorial Foundation has awarded a $2,500 scholarship to 20-year-old Steven Henry, a private pilot who took his first flight through the Young Eagles Program, to work toward his instrument rating. The scholarship is in memory of Diacont, who had been working toward a private pilot certificate but whose life was cut short at the age of 18 from colorectal cancer.

Eric Chuss recommended Steven for the scholarship, according to Courtney’s father Chuck Diacont. In an e-mail, Diacont wrote, “Eric said Steven was the best candidate in the YE program, displaying enthusiasm for flying, a good work ethic and a constant smile—like Courtney.” Henry completed his private pilot training in Mount Pocono, Pa., and has logged more than 125 hours.

The Pennsylvania-based foundation provides scholarships to area students “who demonstrate many of the same qualities that Courtney displayed throughout her illness, such as courage, strength and determination in the face of adversity,” according to the website. It also works to raise awareness of colorectal cancer. The flight training scholarship is offered to a Young Eagle; Courtney was a student pilot.

“[W]e were in Hawaii 2 weeks prior to her passing, and although she spent 1/2 of the trip in the hospital in Honolulu from complications on the commercial flight down, she insisted on a helicopter flight over Pearl Harbor in an MD500 turbine, and insisted on the doors being taken off for flight to allow for a better view—her grace and courage were remarkable. She wanted the Hawaii trip for her siblings to enjoy, as she was struggling,” her father wrote.