The AOPA Foundation has selected two nonprofits to receive the first $5,000 grants from a new program to support organizations in their efforts to offer scholarships to their members.
Able Flight, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the Flying Hogs Aero-Club of Fayetteville, Arkansas, were selected from 32 applicants that included flying clubs, aviation foundations, colleges and universities with aviation programs, and aviation nonprofits.
The grants are part of the AOPA Foundation’s larger Giving Back Program that provides $100,000 to nonprofits doing good work through general aviation, and $100,000 in flight training scholarships, said Stephanie Kenyon, AOPA Foundation vice president of development and communications.
Able Flight’s mission is to "offer people with disabilities a unique way to challenge themselves through flight training, and by doing so, to gain greater self-confidence and self-reliance."
The organization was founded in 2006, and has awarded 60 scholarships to individuals for flight training or aviation career training. Of those receiving grants, 47 have earned pilot certificates, Able Flight said in its grant application.
The Flying Hogs Aero-Club has emerged as a model of a self-driven, self-directed aviation organization with sharp goals and a strong motivational culture since it was founded in May 2014 by Brandon Breard. Its mission, Breard said, is "providing college students like myself with access to affordable flying lessons."
Availing himself of AOPA resources to assist in organizing the club, Breard found local legal advice for establishing the group of University of Arkansas students as a nonprofit organization. Club members also attended an AOPA Town Hall in Bentonville, Arkansas, as they worked to find a way to provide affordable flight training for the membership.
A grant award from the Walton Family Foundation allowed the club to establish its own scholarship program that provides periodic $3,000 scholarships toward the flight training of individuals selected to receive awards. The funds are allocated in a way that "makes sure the student stays on track," Breard said.
The club’s scholarship program also supports discounted flying for already-certificated members, and helps with the costs of club administration.
With help from training partner Summit Aviation, the Flying Hogs Aero-Club was also able to create a 12-session ground school, and pay for the attendance of all those who participated in the four-week course.
The award from the AOPA Foundation will allow the club to add one scholarship to its program.
"The Flying Hogs group is the one that is a perfect example of how to use AOPA resources to launch a flying club. They have shown that they are a ‘Never give up’ group that embodies the spirit of aviation," Kenyon said.