The Flying Musicians Association marked its fifth year of solo scholarships by presenting its 2019 financial awards to three musically talented high school aviators.
The scholarships assist aspiring music students transitioning from zero-time pilot status to completing their solo flights. The awards cover “roughly fifteen hours of dual instruction, online ground school, training materials, and additional products from sponsors,” said John Zapp, the organization’s president, Van’s Aircraft RV–6A pilot, and guitarist.
The scholarship program has taken off since it began in 2015 with five finalists and an inaugural solo scholarship to Florida jazz lover Drew Medina, who soloed in a Piper Archer III. The number of nominees doubled in 2016, and the program produced its first international winner in 2017 when Courtney Taylor of Manitoba, Canada, joined three U.S. students on the flight line.
In 2018, two awards were presented after nominations were received from 13 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces as the word continued to spread.
Zapp said 2019 was “another stellar year,” and he thanked the aviation community for its support for the scholarship program. He said the concept offers students in high school orchestra or band programs the mentorship, camaraderie, and financial support to pursue aviation while continuing their musical endeavors.
Zapp pointed out that all of the program’s 30 nominees in 2019 were "highly recommended" by their music directors and peers. He noted that six previous scholarship recipients have soloed, some already earning their private pilot certificate; two more winners are nearing their first solo.