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Young Eagles Continue Education at Sport Pilot Academy
Four young adults to receive new scholarships to fund their sport pilot certifications
By Ti Windisch
July 26, 2017 - For the first time ever, EAA has funded scholarships for students at the Sport Pilot Academy, a three-week training course that guarantees attendees their sport pilot certification by the conclusion of the program.
EAA Director of Education Bret Steffen said the idea for the Sport Pilot Academy arose from internal discussions on how to best serve EAA’s mission of getting more people involved in general aviation.
“We know that there’s been a lot of interest in folks to try to keep Young Eagles engaged in aviation,” Bret said. “They’ll have a Young Eagles ride, and then what’s next? So we have some other opportunities for Young Eagles through Sporty’s, and taking ground school, and we have a few other scholarships for them. But what we thought it would be fun to do is put together our Young Eagles program and what we’re doing with our Sport Pilot Academy.”
The scholarship was open to all those who have received a Young Eagles ride. That’s a large pool of potential recipients considering that more than 2 million Young Eagles flights have taken place since 1992.
The four recipients of this new scholarship are Jakob Brouillette, Edward Kolb, Mike Long, and Elisa Younger. Jakob grew up watching airplanes take off from a nearby airport, but the spark that ignited his love for aviation came a little later.
“The thing that cemented my interest [in aviation] was my first Young Eagles flight at the age of 11,” he said. “That’s when I knew it was all over; that’s what I was going to do.”
Edward agreed that his Young Eagles flight helped spark his love for flying, although he was originally at the event for a different reason.
“EAA Chapter 1 was hosting a Young Eagles event, and I was in the Boy Scouts then, and I went to go get the aviation badge,” Edward said. “I went flying, loved it, and went once or twice more.”
According to Mike, the combination of some fascinating family ties and a deep interest in flight were what drew him to aviation.
“I’m related to the Wright Brothers,” he said. “I’m a fourth cousin four times removed. I would always look overhead when I was at the farm and see airplanes landing. I always liked the idea of them, the thrill of them, and the physics behind it — the idea of flying and there’s nothing attached to you.”
The scholarship winners don’t have their sport pilot certifications yet, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t already active in aviation. Jakob, Edward, and Mike are all certified A&P mechanics.
Funding for the Sport Pilot Academy scholarships was made possible through donations collected at last year’s EAA Gathering of Eagles. The event raised more than $2.2 million for various programs.
“They asked last year at the Gathering and folks really stepped up and donated a tremendous amount of money toward the effort,” Bret said. “Then it fell to a little group of us to figure out how to make this happen.”
Edward said he had planned on saving up for the Sport Pilot Academy anyway, so winning the scholarship has allowed him to attend a few years earlier.
According to Mike, finding out he won made his day, and then some.
“The rest of the day I was smiling the entire time when I found out,” he said. “And actually the rest of the week. It made me feel very elated.”
Jakob said he was definitely glad to be picked, but the biggest thought for him after winning his scholarship was how he could pay it forward to others.
“I’m being thrown a bone early on in my aviation career,” he said. “I feel a lot more motivated to share that experience with others. I have a nephew, for example, who’s 2-1/2 years old who can now identify an airplane. I look forward to the day where I can give him an airplane ride, and also sharing that experience with my friends and family.”