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AOPA flight training scholarship application window open

Members invited to apply for 2021 You Can Fly program awards

Applications for AOPA’s You Can Fly program 2021 scholarships opened on December 1. The 2020 program awarded 124 scholarships totaling more than $1 million, and with the help of generous donations to the AOPA Foundation, AOPA has awarded nearly $2.5 million in scholarship funding to 345 aspiring and enduring pilots in the past two years.

AOPA is now accepting applications for the 2021 You Can Fly program flight training scholarships. Photo by Mike Fizer.

“AOPA’s mission is to protect your freedom to fly, and these scholarships bring this vision alive by opening the sky to more people with that passion,” said Elizabeth Tennyson, executive director of AOPA’s You Can Fly program. “These scholarships help current and future aviators at all points in their flying journey, especially those who may not have seen a path to the cockpit.”

The deadline for all scholarship applications is February 14 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

With different goals for different aviators—and those aspiring to become pilots—AOPA is offering flight training scholarships in several categories.

AOPA High School Flight Training Scholarship

Thanks to the generosity of the Ray Foundation, 80 high school students, ages 15 to 18, will receive flight training scholarships in 2021. In 2020, 80 students received a scholarship for $10,000 each.

“Our recent You Can Fly High School Symposium reaffirmed how exciting flying can be for a student,” Tennyson said. “Some past scholarship recipients mentioned how thrilling it was to have a pilot certificate, while everyone else their age was ‘only’ driving.”

Scholarship recipients will be able to use the money for direct flight training expenses to pursue a primary pilot certificate, such as a private, sport, or recreational pilot certificate. They must also complete a flight training milestone: achieving either a solo flight or earning a primary pilot certificate within one year of receiving a scholarship. Ninety-two percent of students who received scholarships in 2019 had achieved at least one of those milestones after one year.

  1. Learn about eligibility requirements and frequently asked questions.
  2. Be sure your AOPA membership is current. Not a member? Take advantage of a free AOPA AV8RS or free six-month student pilot membership.
  3. A few things you’ll need to have handy when completing your application:
    • High school transcript.
    • Contact information for each of your two references (tell them soon, so they have time to write a reference!).
    • A list of school- and non-school-related clubs and organizations in which you have participated since your freshman year, as well as any corresponding leadership positions (particularly those that may be aviation-related).
    • A list of volunteer organizations in which you participate.
    • A list of honors and awards that you have received in school, clubs/organizations, and volunteering.
    • Your pilot logbook (if you have one).

If your questions have not been answered here, please email [email protected].

AOPA Teacher Flight Training Scholarship

To complement AOPA’s support of student-learners, and thanks to the generosity of the Ray Foundation, 20 teachers will be awarded scholarships to pursue a primary pilot certificate (private, sport, or recreational pilot).

In 2020, 20 teachers each received a $10,000 scholarship.

To be eligible, a teacher must be:

  • An AOPA member.
  • A full-time employee of a school or school system.
  • Teaching the AOPA High School Aviation STEM Curriculum.

Any questions about the AOPA Teacher Flight Training Scholarship can be answered by emailing [email protected].

AOPA Primary Flight Training Scholarship

These scholarships range from $2,500 to $7,500 and are open to current AOPA members who are at least 16 years of age by the application deadline. The scholarship money can be applied to training for a private, sport, or recreational pilot certificate. As with the other AOPA Flight Training scholarships, these are funded by generous donations to the AOPA Foundation.

AOPA Advanced Rating Scholarship

For accomplished pilots who may have dreams of making aviation a career, the AOPA Foundation will award various scholarships, ranging from $3,000 to $10,000, to AOPA members seeking one of the following ratings or certificates:

  • Instrument.
  • Commercial.
  • CFI (certificated flight instructor).
  • CFII (certificated flight instructor – instrument).
  • MEI (multiengine instructor).

“There’s no better feeling than seeing these scholarship winners seize their dreams and become pilots or earn advanced ratings. All of us at You Can Fly are honored to be part of their journey,” added Tennyson. “If you’re considering applying, don’t wait. February will be here before we know it!”

The You Can Fly program is funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. To be a part of the solution, visit

Alyssa J. Miller
Eric Blinderman
Senior Director of Communications
Eric Blinderman is AOPA’s Senior Director of Communications. Eric joined AOPA in 2020 after several years at leading marketing/communications agencies in New York and is looking forward to putting his newly minted private pilot certificate to work.
Topics: You Can Fly, Student, Scholarship

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