Already a member? Please login below for an enhanced experience. Not a member? Join today
Menu

Students awarded over $350K in aviation scholarshipsStudents awarded over $350K in aviation scholarships

Fourteenth annual Leesburg education expo attracts 1,000 youthFourteenth annual Leesburg education expo attracts 1,000 youth

ProJet Aviation leader Shye Gilad told a hangar packed with young people how a cadre of college friends pooled $400 to help him pursue flight training when he was working in a restaurant and scraping coins together to make ends meet. “That was my first scholarship,” Gilad told them as he paid it forward and helped award $354,441 during the fourteenth annual Aviation Education and Career Expo in Leesburg, Virginia, November 1.

Some of the dozens of scholarship winners who were collectively awarded more than $354,000 jubilate during the annual Aviation Education and Career Expo hosted by ProJet Aviation in Leesburg, Virginia. Photo by David Tulis.

He encouraged about 1,000 enthusiastic students to pursue aviation because he said it would help develop their “character, confidence, and decision-making skills," which are common to fellow aviators.

“Passion is contagious,” echoed event founder Julie O'Brien, who beamed with pride as young people claimed scholarships ranging from $500 to $34,440 to help pay for college tuition, fees, and flight training. “Today is about launching your education, your career, and your passion,” she told them. The program has awarded more than $4 million since it began with a handful of students and a few big-hearted donors.

“You can do anything if you have the passion to do it,” said retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Joe Tate, a former Air Force One pilot instructor. “You cannot imagine all the wonderful things that can happen” if you put your mind to it, he said.

A smiling Chelsea Montgomery, of Bloomington, Minnesota, who trained in a Piper Warrior, concurred as she held a replica check for a $5,000 flight training scholarship. The the 21-year-old private pilot and University of Minnesota Twin Cities business major planned to use the funds for her commercial pilot certificate and hoped to enroll at ATP Flight School. “I guess I always had a passion for aviation,” she said before hurrying to join dozens of other scholarship winners for a celebratory group photo.

Chelsea Montgomery of Bloomington, Minnesota, was awarded a $5,000 flight training scholarship that helped keep her passion for aviation burning. The business major said she would use the funds to earn her commercial pilot certificate.  Photo by David Tulis. Virginia high school youth document aviation opportunities during a professional aviation career expo hosted by ProJet Aviation in Leesburg, Virginia, which helped award more than $354,000 in scholarships. Photo by David Tulis.                 Porshia Capel from Jefferson High School in Virginia challenged herself to fly and land a Cessna 172 with a Redbird jay flight simulator during the fourteenth annual Aviation Education and Career Expo in Leesburg, Virginia. Photo by David Tulis. A helicopter operated by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection department was a hit with youth during the aviation education and career expo. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                                The fourteenth annual Aviation Education and Career Expo  attracted 1,000 youth and 66 vendors to host ProJet Aviation in Leesburg, Virginia, November 1, 2019. Photo by David Tulis.                                                               A flight data recorder is displayed at the NTSB booth in Leesburg, Virginia, during an aviation education and career expo for youth. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                                          Guest speaker and aviation entrepreneur Jamail Larkins talks to youth about aviation opportunities during a career expo. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                                                      High school students crowd around a Redbird Jay flight simulator to try their hand at flying and landing a Cessna 172 as AOPA representatives lend a hand. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                    Scholarship winner Elizabeth Fisken was happy to win a $20,000 training award from Marywood University, part of  more than $354,000 in flight training scholarships from participating flight schools, colleges, and other learning institutions. Photo by David Tulis. Scholarship winner Pranav Masson was happy to win a $17,220 training award from Regent University, part of  more than $354,000 in flight training scholarships from participating flight schools, colleges, and other learning institutions. Photo by David Tulis. More than $354,000 in flight training scholarships from participating flight schools, colleges, and other learning institutions was awarded during an aviation education and career event hosted by ProJet Aviation at Leesburg Executive Airport in Leesburg, Virginia.  Photo by David Tulis. ProJet Aviation Shye Gilad, who began his aviation career with a $400 scholarship scraped together by his friends, tells 1,000 students that education changed his life and encouraged them to "find new ways to add value to flight." His firm has helped award more than $4 million during the 14 years of the Leesburg, Virginia, Aviation Education and Career Expo. Photo by David Tulis. Simon Kadel prepares to accept a $1,000 flight training scholarship from Jet Linx during an aviation education and career expo. More than $354,000 was awarded to grow the pilot and aviation community. Photo by David Tulis. Niles Schuch describes his life in aviation after he was awarded multiple scholarships and he thanked his mentors and others in the aviation industry for their encouragement. He is now a certificated flight instructor at Liberty University where he is paying it forward and giving back to the pilot community. Photo by David Tulis. Student Elizabeth Thornwall, with dreams to become a McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornet fighter pilot, prepares to accept a $1,500 scholarship award during the fourteenth annual Aviation Education and Career Expo in Leesburg, Virginia. Photo by David Tulis. About 1,000 youth learn about aviation career opportunities from industry experts during the fourteenth annual aviation career expo in Leesburg, Virginia. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                    Chilly temperatures did not discourage youth from checking out a handful of aircraft on the ProJet Aviation ramp in Leesburg, Virginia, November 1. Photo by David Tulis. Julie O'Brien, the coordinator for the fourteenth annual Aviation Education and Career Expo, smiles before helping award more than $354,000 in flight training scholarships from participating flight schools, colleges, and other learning institutions during an event hosted by ProJet Aviation at Leesburg Executive Airport in Leesburg, Virginia. Photo by David Tulis. Eastern Mennonite University student pilot Ian Calhoun smiles as he learns about air traffic control career opportunities at an aviation education expo that attracted 1,000 to Leesburg Executive Airport in Virginia. Photo by David Tulis.       Guest speaker and aviation entrepreneur Jamail Larkins of Ascension Air began selling pilot supplies to aviators when he was a teenager. Since then he has performed as an aerobatic pilot, landed corporate pilot opportunities, and founded several aviation enterprises. Photo by David Tulis. Retired U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Meagan Flannigan, a fighter pilot and an inspirational speaker, said the movie 'Top Gun' inspired her to become a naval aviator. She advised high school youth to follow their dreams but to expect a lot of hard work and sacrifice to achieve their goals. "With all my heart I wanted to be a fighter pilot," she told about 1,000 youth during a career day event at ProJet Aviation in Leesburg, Virginia. Photo by David Tulis. AOPA representatives coach a high school student how to fly and land a Cessna 172 with a Redbird jay flight simulator during an education and career event in northern Virginia. Photo by David Tulis.                                              Some of the 1,000 young people who attended an education and career event in Leesburg, Virginia, document a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter taxiing from the ramp. Photo by David Tulis.                                                                Gulfstream IV pilot Larry Speer told students that aviation was a tool for business people to maximize their resources. He encouraged the youth to pursue aviation and help fill the looming pilot void. Photo by David Tulis.
David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a seaplane-rated private pilot who enjoys vintage aircraft, aerobatic flying, and photography.
Topics: Scholarship, Career

Related Articles