The new year brings new opportunities. Students and pilots seeking financial help for their aviation careers may benefit from a handful of scholarship programs that have opened their application processes. Meanwhile, several deadlines for financial aid are fast approaching.
LeRoy W. Homer Jr. “had dreamed of flying since he was a young boy,” according to a description of the scholarship that bears his name. The U.S. Air Force Academy graduate was the first officer for United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, when armed hijackers burst into the cockpit of his Boeing 757 in an attempt to aim the aircraft at the U.S. Capitol. The flight crew and passengers fought back against four terrorists, but the aircraft ultimately crashed into a Pennsylvania countryside, killing all on board.
Since its inception five years ago, The Upwind Foundation in San Carlos, California, has awarded eight flight training scholarships to high school students seeking private pilot certificates. Students are mentored by other pilots during an aggressive nine-week flight and ground training program created to promote general aviation and its career opportunities that also address the nationwide pilot shortage.
“Part of the joy we get is seeing the students’ transformations from giddy applicants to mature decision-makers as the pilot in command,” said the foundation’s Herb Patten. A rigorous schedule ensures that candidates are trained and prepared to take their private pilot checkride during the summer between their junior and senior year. “We’re not just teaching them flight skills,” he continued, “we’re also helping them to become young adults making responsible decisions.”
In 2016 the foundation awarded a scholarship to a student pursuing a rotorcraft rating, a first for the organization. When the examiner complimented a student’s helicopter flying skills as “phenomenal,” Patten said he beamed with pride. The UpwindSummer Scholarship application deadline is Feb. 17.
The Women Marines Association grants scholarships between $1,500 and $3,000 for its members to “be used at any accredited college, university, or college level trade school” that may include aviation studies. Women must have either participated in a Marine Corps JROTC program, have served or be serving in the U.S. Marine Corps or Reserve, or have immediate family members that are on active duty or have served with the Marines. The Women Marines Association application deadline is Feb. 28.
Prospective Wisconsin pilots who live within 50 miles of Wausau and are interested in becoming career pilots may apply for the $1,500 Archie C. Towle Aviation Endowment Fund. Towle, a Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame inductee, soloed in 1929 and first taught his wife, and then his 16-year-old daughter, to fly. Seventeen additional family members followed his lead, and the Towles went on to develop what is now known as Wausau Downtown Airport. The scenic central Wisconsin airfield is bordered on two sides by the Wisconsin River. The Archie C. Towle Aviation Endowment Fund application deadline is Feb. 1.
The Aero Club of Pennsylvania makes several aviation scholarships available to pilots in the state. These include pre- and post-solo awards ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, the Doolittle Tailwheel Scholarship for 10 hours of tailwheel instruction, Chester County Airport scholarships, and more. The state of Pennsylvania has strong aviation ties with Lycoming and Piper, and it also was the home of golf legend and aviation record-setter Arnold Palmer. The Aero Club of Pennsylvania's scholarship application process opens in January.