Scholarship winner offers inspiration to student pilots

Earned his ticket six months after winning 2012 Jeppesen scholarship through AOPA

October 4, 2013

After AOPA announced the winners of the 2013 Flight Training Scholarships recently, a 2012 winner wanted to check in with a progress update.

Matt Metcalfe, manager of the Guntersville, Ala., Municipal Airport, won the $5,000 Jeppesen Flight Training scholarship last year during the AOPA Aviation Summit in Palm Springs, Calif. He learned about the program by reading AOPA’s ePilot Flight Training newsletter.

“I manage a small airport in Alabama. I also have three teenage kids, and being able to have money for gas and instruction wasn’t always an option, so I applied,” Metcalfe recalled. At that point, it had taken him a year to amass 20 flight hours.

“Right after I won, went through ground school, passed the written test and worked on my private certificate the next few months between work and my other responsibilities,” said Metcalfe.

A large part of Metcalfe’s success was juggling his very busy schedule. “Once I got the scholarship, I dropped everything that was non-essential. I worked on it during weekends and lunch breaks with my flight instructor, Tom Taylor,” he said. “The hardest part was when my flight instructor went through a family crisis. Despite that, even he made concessions to get me through my training.”

Metcalfe passed his checkride on April 21, which he said happened to be “a year to the day after Ariel Tweto of ‘Flying Wild Alaksa’ passed her checkride.”

His best advice to student pilots is that if getting a certificate is a dream, find a way to do it and don’t let anything get in the way. “New pilots make up half of one percent of the world’s population. We are a privileged group that gets to do something that 99.5 percent of world doesn’t get to do,” he said. “Flying is an inspiration. I’ve learned that over my four years working at the airport that the people who follow the dream find more opportunity and adventure than they imagine once they get private pilot license.”