When Angelina Tsuboi was starting her flight training journey, she spent a lot of time hunting for scholarships before coming across the AOPA Foundation. Now she’s designed a website so other aspiring pilots can find financial help faster.
“When I started pursuing aviation and flight training, a lot of my time was spent trying to find scholarships when I could’ve been spending that time focusing more on ground school or connecting more with people in the aviation community,” Tsuboi explained. “The process of finding scholarships was pretty difficult because there wasn’t a clear or intuitive guide to find scholarships.”
Pilot Fast Track is a website that helps aspiring or current pilots find scholarships that fit their needs. The program filters the available funds by certification, aircraft preference, and location, as well as filtering and promoting scholarships that uplift gender and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in the industry.
“Ultimately the mission for Pilot Fast Track is to reduce the financial barrier to entry of flight training in order to support the next generation of aviators. I just wanted to use the skills that I had already to make flight training more accessible to people,” Tsuboi said. “It’s meant to make the scholarship search really intuitive and easy, as well as making it really customizable so you can find the right scholarship that suits your aviation goals.”
It was only earlier this year that Tsuboi was awarded an AOPA Foundation You Can Fly High School Flight Training Scholarship, and while the eleventh grader is well on her way to putting those funds to good use pursuing a private pilot certificate (having recently soloed a sport cruiser at Santa Monica Flyers in California), she hasn't let that stop her from uplifting others in her community.
Tsuboi is a programmer, and not just a recreational one. Starting when she was just 7 years old in a classroom, she quickly developed a passion for the subject and now knows 13 programming languages.
“Programming is really easy to learn online if you have access to the right resources,” said Tsuboi. “And it’s one of those skills that can have a huge impact on other people. It can be a really benevolent force for good.”
With several apps under her belt, including an app for the Apple Watch that teaches the basics of CPR and an app to help immigrants access translation support, it’s clear that her skills are being used “for good.” In fact, most of Tsuboi's projects serve a selfless purpose, including Pilot Fast Track, which she describes as “a really cool intersection between two of my passions, aviation and programming.”
The website is currently live and has been shared with groups like the Los Angeles chapter of The Ninety-Nines and the Civil Air Patrol. Tsuboi has plans to launch the app version in the coming months, for both iOS and Android use.
The future is bright for Tsuboi, whose career dreams bounce from mechatronics engineer to astronaut and test pilot, and who has no plans to slow down her programming projects.
“I just have so many ideas in my head, and too little time to implement those ideas.”