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You Can Fly: Scholarship excitement

High school students are among 123 recipients

Thanks to the generosity of the James C. Ray Foundation, 124 AOPA members including high school students, ages 15 to 18; primary flight training participants; high school teachers; and AOPA members pursuing advanced ratings will each receive flight training scholarships in 2021. There were 4,014 applicants.
AOPA Pilot Briefing July 2021
From left: Yorhara Costa, Andrew Tejada, Sydney Whisler

The scholarship awards are in four categories: AOPA High School Flight Training Scholarship, AOPA Teacher Flight Training Scholarship, AOPA Primary Flight Training Scholarship, and AOPA Advanced Rating Scholarship. Applicants submit an essay responding to various questions about their flight training goals. Association and industry experts review the applications and award the scholarships based on goals, experience, initiative, and feasibility.

High school scholarship recipients can use the money for direct flight training expenses to pursue a primary pilot certificate, such as a private, sport, or recreational pilot certificate. They must also complete a flight training milestone, achieving either solo or earning a primary pilot certificate, within one year of receiving a scholarship.

Seventeen-year-old Sydney Whisler of Tahoe City, California, received a $10,000 You Can Fly High School Flight Training Scholarship. In her essay, Whisler described her passion for flying gliders in Sparks, Nevada. She hopes to pursue a private certificate with glider ratings before she attends college.

“Ideally, my long-term goal is to fly for a commercial airline, ideally cargo. I have an interest in flying with various airlines, but the UPS route is one that intrigues me the most,” she wrote. “One thing I have learned in developing a flight plan, sometimes it may go in many different directions to get to your final destination.”

Yorhara Costa, a 26-year-old from Brazil whose family came to the United States when she was 2 years old, received a $6,000 AOPA Primary Flight Training Scholarship. She is working on her private pilot certificate while pursuing her college degree. She now lives in Morristown, New Jersey.

“My long-term aviation goal is to have a successful career in the airline industry. As a female pilot from another country, I know this will present some challenges along the way,” she wrote. “I have longed to become a pilot since my first encounter with an aircraft captain. The inspiration I needed to believe that I can be successful and make that dream a reality came from that encounter. One day, I hope to look back on my journey and be proud of where I’ve landed.”

Andrew Tejada is an innovative 16-year-old from Orlando, Florida, who receives a $10,000 You Can Fly High School Flight Training Scholarship, which he plans to use to pursue his interest in aircraft maintenance and technology. The high school junior has made rockets, designed aircraft for competitions, created robotics, and flown drones.

“I believe being knowledgeable of the more complicated aspects of an aircraft would make me a better pilot,” he wrote. “Many of the skills involved in aviation maintenance such as teamwork, critical thinking, and problem-solving are directly associated with becoming a pilot and therefore are easily transferable to piloting.” Tejada says his ultimate goal is to become a test pilot.

These are just a sample of the many remarkable students, teachers, and individuals who will benefit from the AOPA You Can Fly scholarship program.

aopa.org/scholarships

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Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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