Take From the Rich and Give to the Deserving10:48 AM
In about 2003, I developed the Welcome Sky Aviation Scholarship Program at the flying club I belonged to back in Fresno, the Central Valley Aviation Association. It was my program 100%, and I developed it without modeling it after any existing program. It worked as if we had hired Robin Hood as our front man so we could accept cash donations from current pilots that were financially comfortable, and pool that money to pay for flight training for the best and brightest 18-24 year-old pilot wannabes we could find. The main idea was to generate new pilots to replace the old guys who would lose their FAA medical cards and have to stop flying.
To determine who got the money, applicants submitted a minimum 1,200 word essay to a panel of judges that described how strong their desire was to learn to fly, and what they wanted to do with a flying career once they earned their pilot's license. I demanded they write this long essay because I feel that being a good writer is key to success in any endeavor, and anyone who never bothered to learn to write correctly was not the pilot candidate we wanted to give scholarship money to. What we got was unbelievable submissions from kids that were eloquent in their essays, and from these essays, we judges could easily see which candidates were real aviators, and which ones just liked planes because they were cool. The judges independently scored the essays, and a winner was chosen each time we had enough money raised to pay for a full-ride scholarship to pay for private pilot training, about $5,000 at the time.
One of her interests was sports, particularly softball. She attended a high school that was generally under the approach end to Fresno Chandler Downtown Airport's runway 30. She explained in her essay that while she was a pretty decent ball player, her coaches were always on her because as a fielder, she would lose herself in her dream to fly each time a GA plane slid by overhead on final approach to FCH. She said it was hard to concentrate on softball as she looked skyward staring at the plane, and each time this happened, she knew she had to learn to fly. This, my friends, proved she was one of us.