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Ray Aviation Scholarship

EAA Ray Aviation Scholarship

The EAA Ray Aviation Scholarship is a scholarship program that is funded by the Ray Foundation, managed by EAA, and administered through the EAA Chapter network. Through the generous support of the Ray Foundation, EAA provides up to $11,000 to deserving youths to help cover their flight training expenses, totaling $1,800,000 in annual scholarship funding.

EAA chapters apply for a scholarship, and if approved, the chapter then awards the scholarship to a youth or young adult to help them become a pilot. In addition to scholarship funding, the chapter also helps mentor the scholar and supports them on their path to becoming a licensed pilot.

This scholarship is available for candidates 16-19 years old who are pursuing a Private Pilot or Sport Pilot certificate, and for candidates 15-19 years old who are pursuing a Glider Pilot certificate.

Learn more at

The Chapter has selected Aiden Scherer for the 2023 Ray Scholarship. 

 A Letter From Aiden

"It was a terribly boring day in algebra class when the end of the day intercom came to life and spouted off all of the day's information. Including one thing about some scholarship in Sullivan, a town I had barely known of, let alone an airport there. I think I filled out the application form and essay not knowing what would become of it. All I knew at that moment in time was that I wanted to get behind the yoke of a plane and I would do almost anything to get there. After about a week's worth of unbearably slow school days passed I received an email asking about confirmation for the interview. 
After donning my finest wrinkly polo and oversized jeans, my mom and I arrived at the airport to begin the interview. My initial thought on the airport was that it was extremely small because at that point I’d never seen a regional airport before. I’m not sure what I was expecting but the size of the FBO was completely bizarre to me. Another thing that initially surprised me was that I seemed to be the only one who’s mom made them dress up. At the moment I was jealous that everyone else was in their fancy shorts and t-shirt. Walking into the interview room (now yet known to me as the paperwork room) I was super nervous. Up to that point I had never done an interview that actually mattered and I knew this one definitely did. Upon closing the door behind me and sitting in the old spinny chair, I was greeted with multiple friendly faces that made my nerves die down a little bit. The interview process was more of a friendly conversation rather than an intensive interrogation which I was thankful for. 
Fast forward to a few weeks later, I was unfortunately informed that my application was respectfully denied due to my age. As a 15 year old, I would have been the youngest they’d seen so far which I understood. I, along with my family, were strongly encouraged to attend the monthly meetings and volunteer events which we did and had a great time doing so. We got to meet a lot of awesome people involved in the chapter that we otherwise wouldn’t have met. Those people we’ve met over the few years we’ve been involved are probably the only reason I am as far as I am with my training as a private pilot.
Fast forward again to another god awful week of school. I got home and mom told me with a smile on her face that the chapter was once again offering the scholarship and would like to meet with me again. I was super excited to get another shot at the scholarship. With the exposure and involvement I’ve received beforehand, I thought I had a pretty good shot. 
Mom and I sat at the Sullivan Starbucks waiting for time to pass, both drinking our mediocre, overpriced coffee. With time to spare before we left, I took a quick bathroom break. In doing so I looked in the mirror and noticed my fancy clothes fit me alot better than my initial attempt at the interview process a year prior. 
The second interview process was less of an interview process and more of a check in to make sure my parents and I were still interested and understood the weight and importance of such a scholarship, which of course we were. After successfully receiving the scholarship and beginning my training through it. I feel like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and a much heavier one was placed on them. I understood the responsibilities and deadlines I was required to meet. As present me looking back, I believe I could’ve done a better job at taking the time to make sure those responsibilities were in order and not doing it last minute. For the most part my volunteer hours have been good and on time, but I will admit that there have been a few instances where I failed to schedule service hours and was lucky enough to have them forgiven so I could work towards them for the next month, (Thank you so much Debbie). 
The things I’ve enjoyed most about the scholarship experience and lessons in general is the community I am slowly discovering at the Sullivan airport as well as all over Missouri, and hopefully the country and world one day. My most vivid memory throughout my lessons up to this point is waiting in pure agony for the cloud ceiling to lift so I could go solo for the first time. If I remember correctly it was me, my family, Kelly, Amanda and Dave. After the three hours of waiting the ceiling finally shot up to where we needed it to be. Sherry and I took the plane up and did three to four laps around the pattern until she had me stop on the midway intersection
on the taxiway. She unbuckled, opened the door and slowly got out, turned around to me and said “Don’t f**k this up”. I was scared out of my mind at this point until she gave me a reassuring laugh and slammed the door behind her. Out of the three landings I needed to complete my first solo, I think I made five to six attempts. On one of those attempts the wind got me, my gear touched to the runway as I was cocked off to the left by 45 degrees or so looking directly at my family on the side of the runway. You can ask Kelly about that picture. On my last go around, Dave rode up the taxiway on his bike, gave me a goodbye wave, and went to stand alongside the rest of my family. During the base of the final landing, I was extra scared because I couldn’t hold on to the yoke because I was so darn sweaty. While floating down on final I was frantically wiping my hands on my shorts to get any better shot at holding the yoke. It worked a little and I didn’t end up crashing so that’s a win in my book. I pulled up to the tanks to refill, completely forgot the after landing check, and peeled my sweaty self off the seat to be met with a small crowd of people all cheering and laughing that I did at least a decent job and I wasn’t dead. I got my shirt cut off and put in the training room where it will remain for a few more months until I get my license. I gave my sweaty hugs and high fives and just wanted to put the plane in the hangar and leave because I was tired, sweaty, and probably a little dehydrated at that point. 
But at the end of the day. These memories and experiences I’ve had in the air and on the ground have been some of the most exciting and memorable experiences I will probably have for the rest of my life. I thank everyone for their kindness and overwhelming support as I slowly make my way up to my cross country flights and eventually my check ride some time in May-June. Everyone I have met have been some of the nicest people I know and I can’t wait to continue working and just being around this community for the rest of my life. 
Tailwinds and blue skies 
-Aiden Scherer"


Scholar Eligibility and Requirements

Ray Aviation Scholarship Fund applicants will be the most engaged, excited, and motivated aspiring pilots the chapter has had the pleasure of meeting. It will be incumbent upon the chapter to vet local youths to help bring forward the most deserving candidate in their local area.

Local candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Minimum of age 15 for glider training. (Not Available through EAA Chapter 1402)
  • Age 16-19 for powered flight training.
  • Possession of a student pilot certificate. (Help will be given by the Instructor if selected)
  • Possession of FAA medical certificate. (private pilot students must obtain own medical)
  • Be able to begin their flight training within 60 days of receiving the award.
  • Must have flexible schedule after school and weekends and commit time for successful completion of Private Pilot Certificate

Consideration will be given to candidates who are former Young Eagles, EAA student members, and actively participating in the EAA Flight Plan. Candidates are encouraged to attend monthly meetings and specifically complete the Sporty’s Learn to Fly Course (Preferably before they start flight training) offered with their Young Eagles Logbook at no cost to them. A $200 value and 1 free hour of Flight Training after successful completion of the course.

Once selected by the chapter, the youth will also be screened by EAA through an application process, which will require approval from the local chapter. If approved by EAA, the scholarship recipient will have to comply with the following requirements.

  • Partake in two hours of chapter volunteer service per month, such as:
    • Must be able to drive and have drivers license
    • Young Eagles Rally volunteering.
    • Pancake breakfast/fly-in volunteering.
    • Chapter gathering participation.
  • Submit regular progress reports, signed off by local chapter and CFI.
  • Reach flight training milestones, as outlined by EAA’s training timeline.

Note: Funding is dependent upon completion of progress reports and meeting training milestones in a timely manner.

The EAA chapter will play a critical role to ensure the Ray Aviation Scholarship recipient is staying on track to earn their pilot certificate. 

EAA Chapter 1402 2023 Ray Scholarship Application:

EAA Chapter 1402 Ray Aviation Scholarship Application

 Becoming a Private Pilot – Step by Step

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