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AOPA's 2017 scholarships openAOPA's 2017 scholarships open

AOPA has announced the opening of two scholarship programs that in recent years have helped fund flight training for dozens of recipients from teenagers in high school to adults who never gave up on pursuing their dream of flight.

AOPA has announced the opening of the AOPA High School Flight Training Scholarships and the AOPA Flight Training Scholarships. Photo by Mike Fizer.

Funded by generous donations to the AOPA Foundation, the AOPA High School Flight Training Scholarships and the AOPA Flight Training Scholarships have been opening pathways to a life in aviation for individuals while helping to secure general aviation’s future since the two programs made their initial awards in 2016 and 2011, respectively.

Application deadlines, details about eligibility requirements for the two scholarship programs, and when winners will be announced are explained below.

AOPA is now accepting applications for the 2017 High School Flight Training Scholarship Program, which will award 20 flight training scholarships of $5,000 each to eligible high school students.

The High School Flight Training Scholarship Program is made possible by donations to the AOPA Foundation and is intended to increase the number of young people who can pursue an interest in aviation, and help them earn an initial pilot certificate, said Cindy Hasselbring, AOPA senior director of the AOPA High School Aviation Initiative.

Scholarship applications will be accepted until May 19, with the winners to be announced on June 23.

“We are excited here at AOPA to assist 20 students in achieving their dreams of flying. These students will not only gain understanding essential in becoming a pilot, but also acquire many career-ready skills that will help them in whatever career they decide to pursue in the future,” said Hasselbring.

Eligible students must be 15 to 18 years old, U.S. citizens or permanent residents, carry at least a 2.75 cumulative grade point average (GPA), have parental approval if under 18, and not yet have taken a checkride for a pilot certificate.

Students should provide contact information for two references—including at least one school official—and submit a signed, notarized affidavit with their application.

Scholarship funds can be used to pay for direct flight training expenses including aircraft rental, and ground and flight instruction. 

The AOPA High School Flight Training Scholarship Program is part of the AOPA High School Aviation Initiative, which is working to create and support more high school aviation STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs.

AOPA knows that when aviation scholarships reach out, success is sure to follow. Among recipients of the 2016 scholarship program, one has earned a private pilot certificate, another has soloed, and the rest are out there flying, based on reports AOPA has received from the field.

The application period has opened for the 2017 AOPA Foundation Flight Training Scholarship program, which will award scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $5,000. All scholarships are made possible by generous donations to the AOPA Foundation.

The deadline for submitting applications is May 31, with the winners to be announced in late June or early July.

The AOPA Foundation Flight Training Scholarship program was launched in 2011 to encourage student pilots to achieve their goals by facilitating a positive flight training experience. In 2016 the AOPA Foundation funded a total of $196,000 in scholarships that were awarded to 42 individuals from teenagers attending high school to adults.

“By offering encouragement and financial support, the scholarship program ensures that new pilots are able to join the community of aviators and pursue their dreams of flight,” said AOPA Foundation Vice President of Philanthropy Mike Tompos.

A scholarship applicant must be a U.S. citizen or a U.S. permanent resident; be at least 16 years of age by May 31, 2017; hold an FAA student pilot certificate at the time of application; be a current AOPA member at both the time of application and when the scholarship is awarded, including a regular, military, drone, student Trial, or AV8RS membership. For more information regarding Eligibility Requirements, go to the FAQ page.

As noted, scholarships and success go hand in hand. A majority of the nine women and eight men aged 16 to 50 who were 2016 scholarship recipients were able to double the number of weekly flight lessons—always a plus in training. Four recipients have become private pilots since the awards were made, and most have achieved training milestones including solo, cross-country solos, and passing the FAA knowledge exam.

The majority of recipients have added at least nine hours to their training time logged—and some have added more than 18 hours since receiving their scholarship awards. Several have expressed an interest in acquiring another certificate or endorsement, such as an instrument rating or being endorsed to fly a high-performance airplane.

Each recipient also received a gift certificate from the MyGoFlight online store and a complimentary one-year subscription to ForeFlight Pro Plus.

The AOPA Foundation also funds the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s free online courses and in-person seminars; You Can Fly efforts to grow the pilot population and help rusty pilots get back in the air; AOPA programs to promote community airports; and the association's efforts to improve the public’s perception of GA.

You Can Fly is AOPA’s umbrella program that pursues targeted efforts to build the pilot population. It includes the Flying Club Initiative that can address many of the issues GA faces—affordability, access to aircraft, and camaraderie. AOPA’s Flying Club Network is free to join and offers free scheduling software, a premium listing in the AOPA Flying Club Finder, a resource library, exclusive insurance rates, access to networking events, and more.

For pilots who have stopped flying because of cost, time, or regulations, but who plan to get back into flying, AOPA created the Rusty Pilots program to lower the barrier to re-entry and provide lapsed pilots a way to return to flying in a matter of hours. Rusty Pilots seminars are hosted across the country and satisfy the ground portion of the flight review. Nearly 40 percent of those who attend a Rusty Pilots seminar complete their flight review and return to the air as pilot in command.

AOPA is working with its Aviation High School Initiative to help build and sustain aviation-based STEM programs in high schools in order to provide a quality workforce to the aviation industry.

AOPA’s Flight Training Initiative seeks to change the training paradigm by helping flight schools understand why dropout rates are so high and then giving them the tools, information, and support they need to create an experience their students will love and want to continue. AOPA’s Flight Training Excellence Awards recognize the best flight schools and instructors in the country.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: You Can Fly, AOPA, AOPA Foundation

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