October 11, 2018 — A new EAA program will provide up to $10,000 each for an initial class of 90 to 100 young people who are pursuing flight training, thanks to the Ray Foundation of Naples, Florida.
The Ray Foundation has provided $1 million to fund the Ray Aviation Scholarship Fund, which seeks to improve the flight training success rate from the current 20 percent level to 80 percent. The scholarship program will be managed by EAA and administered through its chapter network. EAA chapters will be responsible for identifying youths for the Ray Aviation Scholars program and mentoring them through flight training.
“This is a tremendous first step to use aviation to impart important life skills and introduce youths to aviation and aerospace careers,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA CEO and chairman of the board. “Through this grant, the Ray Foundation is furthering the legacy of James Ray, an EAA lifetime member who was dedicated to aviation and youths. Working together, we will grow this initiative to help meet the tremendous future demand for pilots and associated aviation careers.”
Ray, who died in April 2017, was a longtime supporter of EAA programs and youth initiatives. One of his most visible areas of support was financing the EAA Air Academy Lodge that opened in 1998. This residence facility supports the annual EAA Air Academy, the world’s longest running aviation youth camp, which is held in Oshkosh each summer.
EAA chapters will play a critical role in the success of the Ray Aviation Scholars program. Chapters interested in participating must be prequalified by EAA through an application process. If selected, they will mentor and support the scholarship recipient throughout their flight-training journey. Once selected as a Ray Aviation Scholarship Fund participant, candidates will also commit to volunteer service with the local EAA chapter.
“The Ray Aviation Scholars program through EAA aims to meet two immediate needs — the growing demand for pilots and those in aviation careers, and the financial burden that often keeps young people from completing flight training,” said Chuck Ahearn, president of the Ray Foundation. “The pilot community found within EAA chapters is the perfect group to provide the support and mentorship that will significantly improve the flight training success rate.”
More information on the program and the eligibility requirements is available at EAA.org/rayscholars. In addition, EAA is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, November 13, at 7 p.m. (Central time) to further outline the opportunities and requirements of the program.