Wheeling, Ill.-based Ground Effect Advisors (GEA) has chosen Zachary (Zach) Pietch, of Wilmington, N.C., as the winner of the organization’s first-ever flying club scholarship. Pietch will use it to form the Cape Fear Flyers.
Ground Effect Advisors also surprised Chip Gentry, Jay Hahn, and Jeffrey Naught, who collectively submitted an application for a prospective flying club in Jefferson City, Mo., with a $1,000 runner-up scholarship funded by AOPA. “Helping get new clubs started is a big part of the AOPA Flying Clubs Initiative, and we thought the idea of scholarships was brilliant. It was something that AOPA really wanted to support,” said Adam Smith, senior vice president of AOPA’s Center to Advance the Pilot Community.
Ground Effect Advisors received 126 applications for the scholarship. As part of winning, Pietch and his prospective flying club, Cape Fear Flyers, will receive more than $3,500 worth of products, services, and support from partners, including AOPA, David Clark Co., Sporty’s Pilot Shop, Signature Flight Support, Cirrus Aircraft, Schedule Master, PilotEdge, and LiveATC.net.
"We received so many incredible applications, and Zach’s really jumped off of the page at us. Upon performing further due diligence on our previously announced finalists, we found him to embody everything we were seeking: passion; vision; drive; and of course, potential for sustained success,” said Al Waterloo, a Ground Effect Advisors partner. “Zach has been working towards this day for over a year with little progress. As with most prospective flying clubs, navigating the complex landscape is difficult, with many bumps along the way. We are ecstatic to have the opportunity to work with Zach and the prospect of making a lasting impact on the general aviation community in the Wilmington area."
The GEA partners were also impressed with the application from the Jefferson City Flying Club. “[It] forced us to pivot from our original objective of awarding a single scholarship,” said partner Todd McClamroch. “With incredible support from AOPA, we are quite excited to extend this program to another applicant with qualities too good to pass up.”