Seven young people who are working toward goals in aviation have been named the 2016 award recipients of the AOPA AV8RS Scholarship Program.
Scholarship recipients are chosen based on merit, past accomplishments, a demonstrated ability to set goals, and a commitment to general aviation. The scholarship program is open to all current members of AOPA AV8RS who are pursuing an aviation-related goal, including a primary pilot’s certificate (and have not completed the FAA practical test/checkride at the time of application); study in an aviation/aerospace field through an accredited aviation program at a college/university, technical school, or aviation academy; or by attending an aviation or aerospace camp.
As a 2016 AV8RS Scholarship winner, Kylie Hard, 14, of Colorado will attend an Air Camp for middle-schoolers in Dayton, Ohio. She looks forward to it because “it’s a STEM-based program that includes flight training, and learning about the science, technology, engineering, and math that makes flight a reality.” This prospective professional pilot comes from a family of pilots including both grandfathers, her dad, uncles, and a cousin. Her great uncle earned a World Distance Award for glider cross-country flights. She is a founding member of the Girls in STEM club at her community’s library. “Winning this scholarship for Air Camp is a huge leap in pursuing my dreams of becoming a pilot,” she said.
Tara Hoefig, 17, of Washington State was an aviation achiever well before she became a 2016 AV8RS Scholarship winner. The high school senior has also given herself a running start on college: As a junior she began studying at Green River College through its Running Start Program, working at an education level two years ahead. She will graduate from high school and from Green River College with an Associate of Arts degree this spring. In high school she attended a yearlong ground school course offered through the public school district. She has logged 33 hours of flight time, soloed, and passed her knowledge test.
Matthew Kessler has a passenger in mind for when he earns his private pilot ticket: his grandfather, who flew helicopters and airplanes in the Air Force and has been a role model for the 16-year-old 2016 AV8RS Scholarship winner from Georgia. As one who loves a challenge and has a strong interest in science and engineering along with an “intense passion for aviation,” he believes that a pilot certificate will open many doors. His goal, therefore, is to complete his training before starting his senior year in high school, then go on to pursue an instrument rating and a commercial pilot certificate.
Nora Manger, 14, of California started monthly flight lessons as a 13-year-old, and has now logged 12 flight hours. She plans to solo at 16, earn her pilot certificate at 17, and take her family “plane camping” at 18. Becoming a 2016 AV8RS Scholarship winner will help her attend an Embry-Riddle Flight Exploration Camp, about which she said, “My excitement is beyond words.” Manger took her first airplane ride at age 8 in “a garage-built RV-9” under the EAA Young Eagles program. She is a downhill longboarder and member of a race team, the Maryhill Ratz, based out of Washington State.
Erich Miner, 18, is pursuing an Aviation Flight Science degree at Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation to prepare for a career in business aviation. Along the way he plans to give back by becoming a flight instructor and teaching others to fly. He first took the controls of an airplane at age 12, and has known since a very early age that becoming a pilot was for him. Miner also is a musician who performs on the university drumline, and is now teaching himself to play bass guitar. He credits the “unwavering support” of his family for his successes.
Noah Reno, 16, of Washington State faced a tough choice after getting some experience flying both gliders and powered aircraft: Which one should he pursue all the way to a pilot certificate? He chose powered flight, and now flies each weekend, and has soloed in a Cessna 172. He can envision flying as an airline pilot some day, but in the shorter term, taking passengers up and showing them how much fun flying is motivates him to complete his training. As a 2016 AV8RS Scholarship winner, he will be able to finish his cross-country flying, and hopes to take his checkride in March.
Becoming a 2017 AV8RS Scholarship winner means the world to Sean Sommerville, 17, of California because, “I spend most of my time on the ground wishing I was up in the air.” He took his first lesson from the flight instructor who trained his father, who is a private pilot. The high school senior and Eagle Scout sees airline flying in his future. He also hopes that earning his own certificate will allow him to spend more quality time with his father and rekindle his dad’s interest in aviation. Sommerville hopes to continue his flight training when he enters college this fall.