Did you know that in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed August 19 to be National Aviation Day? Although it’s not a traditional federal holiday, like Veteran’s Day, it does commemorate the birthday of Orville Wright. The Wright brothers are often credited with being the first to fly, but this is not entirely correct. Others did manage to build planes and fly prior to December 17, 1903, but none had manned a fixed-wing aircraft. Unlike previous attempts, the Wright brothers were actually able to steer and control their plane. In the 110 years since that flight, our fascination with soaring among the clouds hasn’t diminished.
Today, there are over 627,000 certified pilots, flying everything from glider planes to commercial jets. The cost of earning a pilot’s license can run anywhere from $8,000 t0 $13,000, depending on the number of hours and type of plane used. It can be difficult to find financial aid to help reduce those fees, but several organizations offer scholarships to those who are interested in becoming pilots or working in an aviation field. Here are just a few of the programs that are currently available.
If you are planning to enroll in a post-secondary program to increase your knowledge of scheduling or dispatching business aircraft, be sure to check out this program. Several scholarships, valued up to $1,000 each, are awarded each year. Deadline: September 27.
The San Diego Chapter of the Ninety-Nines provides one $1,000 scholarship to an aspiring student pilot who is pursuing a private pilot certificate. You must be female, live in San Diego (CA) and have completed a solo flight. Deadline: September 30.
The Arizona Chapter of the American Helicopter Society Vertical Flight Foundation offers several scholarships each year to students who are enrolled in an engineering program and demonstrate an interest in pursuing a career in the aircraft industry. Awards range from $1,500 to $3,000 each. If you currently attend a college in Arizona, you may be eligible to apply. Deadline: October 10.
If you are enrolled in a two-year or four-year aviation-related program at a NBAA/University Aviation Association (UAA) member institution, you may be eligible for one of five $1,000 scholarships provided by the National Business Aviation Association. Deadline: November 1.
Women in Aviation International (WAI) provides one $500 scholarship to a female student who is pursuing a career in aviation. You must be a current member of WAI and use the funds within 12 months. Deadline: November 18.
Women pilots account for less than seven percent of all certified pilots in the air today. Although this number has increased over the years, it has not kept pace with other career fields. The cost of obtaining a pilot’s license, along with the difficulty of finding a female instructor, may explain why some women have not pursued this career path, but there are resources available to help. If you are a woman, and interested in aviation career, be sure to check out the numerous scholarships provided through Women in Aviation International and The Ninety-Nines, Inc. With a little luck and perseverance, you’ll soon be soaring among the clouds!
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