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Apply for AOPA Scholarships

The 2024 AOPA Foundation scholarship program opened September 5 with more than $1 million in scholarships for flight training, aviation maintenance, airport management, and more.

Alton Downer, a U.S. Army veteran learning to fly while fueling aircraft at Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland, was persistent and finally landed a scholarship from the AOPA Foundation about a year after his first aerobatic flight in an Extra 300 with 'AOPA Pilot' Editor at Large Dave Hirschman.

Made possible through the generous donations of AOPA members, the foundation is offering a variety of scholarships to ease the cost of education, training, and testing with awards ranging from $2,500 to $14,000.

The scholarships offer a range of opportunities for those seeking to enhance their skills, qualifications, and career opportunities by earning their pilot certificate or advanced ratings, transitioning to a different aircraft type, or partaking in specialized training.

Paving the way for high school students and educators to earn their private certificate, the Ray Foundation is providing 80 $10,000 scholarships to high school students and 20 $10,000 scholarships to educators actively teaching the AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Curriculum.

AOPA announced the 2023 scholarship recipients in July, and the winners were grateful for the assistance. One proud recipient, Alton Downer—a line service technician at Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland—was awarded an AOPA flight training scholarship to continue his flight training. (An aerobatic ride in an Extra 300 in 2022 provided an extra jolt of inspiration.)

“I always wanted to learn to fly; as a child I’d look up at the airplanes in the sky and wonder how they did that,” Downer said. “I didn’t know anyone in aviation but when a job came open at the airport, I took the opportunity to at least be a part of aviation.”

Downer joined AOPA and applied for a 2023 scholarship, having applied previously without success.

“My advice to anyone is to keep applying, but also to check your junk mail. Not sure why [the award letter] ended up there, but it is a blessing,” Downer said. Now Downer’s children are showing interest in taking to the skies. “I say not yet, daddy doesn’t know how to fly yet. But when I do, I’m going to show them they can do it too. Instead of looking up, someone else will be looking up at me.”

To learn more about the available scholarship opportunities, please visit AOPA’s scholarship webpage. Each scholarship comes with its own set of eligibility criteria, but applicants need only submit one application to be considered for all scholarships for which they qualify. The number and amount of all scholarships will be determined by donor funding, which may not be finalized until immediately before awards are announced in May.

To apply, all applicants must be members of AOPA. The scholarship window opened September 5, and applications will be accepted until February 9 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

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 www.aopafoundation.org/donate.

Niki Britton
eMedia Content Producer
eMedia Content Producer Niki Britton joined AOPA in 2021. She is a private pilot who enjoys flying her 1969 Cessna 182 and taking aerial photographs.
Topics: AOPA Foundation, Scholarship, Training and Safety

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