Ray Aviation Scholarship

By Christopher Gauger, EAA 746128, Chapter Field Representative I

June 2022 – Since it was introduced in 2019, the EAA Ray Aviation Scholarship has been a tremendous success. This program offers flight training scholarships for youths to help them complete flight training and earn their pilot certificate. Thanks to the generous support of the Ray Foundation, EAA is able to award scholarships of up to $10,000 to EAA chapters so they can help deserving young people learn to fly. As of this writing, more than 220 scholars have earned their pilot certificates through the program, and more than 230 are currently undergoing flight training. The program has seen an annual success rate of 80-85 percent.

All EAA chapters are eligible to apply for a scholarship each year. If awarded a scholarship by EAA, then the chapter nominates a young person to receive the scholarship. That youth must be 16-19 years old to apply if seeking a private pilot or sport pilot certificate, or they must be 15-19 years old if seeking a glider pilot certificate. After a chapter’s scholar has been approved by EAA, then the chapter begins receiving scholarship funding.

Chapters play a crucial role in supporting their Ray scholars and helping them complete flight training. Each chapter with a Ray Scholarship appoints a scholarship coordinator. Their job is to serve as the primary mentor for the scholar, report the scholar’s flight training progress to EAA, and manage the scholarship funds disbursed to the chapter. Other chapter members are also welcome to help mentor the scholar and assist them in their flight training. The success of a Ray scholar is enabled by the generous support they receive from their chapter.

Ray scholars are required to volunteer with their chapter for at least two hours per month. There are many kinds of chapter activities that scholars can engage in to fulfill this requirement. These include attending monthly chapter gatherings, volunteering at chapter events such as Young Eagles rallies and pancake breakfasts, participating in youth activities such as the Young Eagles Workshops or the Young Eagles Build and Fly program, participating in an aircraft building or restoration project at the chapter, assisting with the chapter’s newsletter or website or social media, and much more. The Ray Scholarship provides an opportunity for more youths to get involved with EAA chapters and become members of their local aviation communities.

The Ray Aviation Scholarship provides more than just financial and chapter support for youths learning to fly. Through the experiences of flight training, the program helps youths develop life skills that will serve them well in adulthood, such as self-discipline, self-confidence, and self-reliance. This scholarship does more than just create new pilots. It is also a character-building opportunity for our young people.

If you want to learn more about this program, please visit EAA.org/RayScholars.

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