Chapter 221

Kalamazoo, MI

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

Chapter 221 Ray Scholarship update

It was a low cast day but not too low to fly.  At least for pattern work. METARS Checked.  Preflight was accomplished. Emilee had been waiting for over a month for just the right conditions. Time for the first solo.  Time to leave that instructor on the ground and take off on her own.  January 4th 2023, that was the day.  Emilee’s mom videoed while Emilee made her pass around the patch. Mom videos mainly to keep her mind off of the fact that her 17-year-old daughter was flying an airplane all alone.  All went well and the landings were spot on.


Another perfectly good shirt, or two in this case, go to waste. Gotta keep the tradition’s alive and it’s just plane (no it’s not a typo) fun. Emilee wore two shirts on her solo flight, one to cut the tail off of to put on the board at PASA (Plainwell Aviation and STEM Academy) and the other to take home with her to frame and put on her wall.

As most of you may know we have another Ray Scholar, Emilee White. Some of you may have met her at the last few EAA Meeting.  She successfully completed her first solo on January 4th.  Emilee is a senior at Parchment high school. She was enrolled in the KRESA Education for Employment Aviation Program which is held at the AirZoo in the same room that we have our monthly meeting.  She is now dual enrolled at Kellogg Community College and Parchment High School.  Kellogg Community College offers Aviation Classes that transfer to a four year university.  Emilee has applied to four different Aviation Universities but her first choice is Western Michigan University. She also attends the Youth Pilot Program at PASA where she first started flying.  She received a scholarship last year from the East Michigan Chapter of the 99’s.  She had nearly depleted her resources when she received the Ray Scholarship.  Emilee has a total of 30.1 hrs. as I am writing this but will almost certainly have more before you read this.  Her short term goals are to be accepted into an aviation university where she can earn her CFI certification and then return to PASA to instruct. This would allow her to give back to the where here aviation journey began three years ago.


Last note, Emilee also likes to bake but her mother will only let her bake for special occasions. Emilee found a good reason recently and baked away.

We will keep you posted on her progress and thank you to Jon and Susan Rafacz for the leaseback of their Cessna 150 which Emilee flies.

Ginger DeVillers

Young Eagles /Ray Scholarship Coordinator



Chapter 221 Ray Scholarship's Newest Pilot - Congratulations Sara!


Sara Velderman

Sara Velderman, EAA Chapter 221 Ray Scholar for 2020, completed her check ride just in time to watch the snow fly.

Tuesday METARS at 8:00 AM EST

KAZO 281332Z 0000KT 10SM SCT120

Tuesdays METARS at 3:32 PM EST

KAZO 282032Z 10007KT 1/4SM R35/2800V3500FT SN FG BKN003 OVC008 01/M01 A2971

Sara began her aviation journey with an intro flight from Virgil Williams and the Plainwell Aviation and STEM Academy (PASA).  Sara knew she wanted to fly and Virgil said she was a natural. Her next flying adventure was to attend the Youth Flight Camp at PASA four years ago and the rest was history.

Sara joined the Youth Pilot Program held at the Plainwell Airport through PASA and began taking flight lessons. Sara is a senior in high school this year. She began flying when she was a freshman. She was also working 5 part time jobs. When the Ray Scholarships were approved for 2021 it was obvious that Sara would be an excellent candidate. She completed her paperwork in record time and wrote a great essay. She was approved with the stipulation from Ginger DeVillers, Ray Scholarship Coordinator, that she drop two of her part time jobs to be able to focus more on flight. She agreed since she no longer had to work as much to earn money to fly. When a mechanical issue grounded the PASA Airplane, she asked if she could continue her flight training at Ottawa Exec at L’Avion Air in Zeeland. Phil Cook agreed to take her on as a student and she has been a flying fiend ever since.

Sara continued to attend the Youth Pilot Program at PASA where she volunteered helping the younger youth classes and summer camp students. She has also volunteered at Young Eagles events and last year she and her mom volunteered all week at AirVenture Oshkosh.  She has been persistent and obtained an intern position at Duncan Aviation for next summer.  While she loves to fly, she would also like to get her Airframe and Powerplant Certificate (A&P) and eventually an Inspector Authorization (IA). 

Weather and mechanicals caused five check rides to be cancelled but on Tuesday December 28th, 2022 at 14:00 local Sara passed her check ride. Check the METARS again to see how close the weather was to putting her on hold again. Can you bust a check ride if you are below minimums if the weather comes down on you during your check ride? I believe you can. Congratulations Sara on being persistent and working hard. Thank you to all that made this possible. If you are a member of our chapter, you made this possible. More good things are coming our way.

Ginger DeVillers - EAA 221 Ray Scholarship Coordinator

First SOLO!

Gavin Johnson is our newest Ray Scholarship recipient.  Gavin started his aviation journey in the 6th grade in-school program with Ginger DeVillers, CEO of Plainwell Aviation and STEM Academy (PASA).

He has continued with his aviation interest, and on Tuesday November 11, 2021 completed his first SOLO.  His flight instructor, Ryan Epps, is a graduate of Purdue University, but we try not to hold that against him.  Ryan says that Gavin has a lot of background knowledge and absorbs everything like a sponge but it is sometimes hard to tell if Gavin is excited or not.  Gavin is very low key. 

This summer Gavin was able to fly with a former PASA classmate, Luke Edgerly, who is currently a senior at the Air Force Academy and flies with their collegiate team.  The flight was a great experience for both of them.

Gavin is a senior this year and will graduate in May. He is not sure of his exact long-term plans but knows that they will include flying.  Gavin attends Plainwell Community Schools. 


Gavin is the student in the striped shirt in this photo from the 2014 Aviation Camp at the Plainwell Airport.

Almost Time to Take That Checkride…

Our other Ray Scholarship student Sara Velderman is scheduled for her check ride once again - weather has not been her friend.  Her check ride has been rescheduled three times now.  Sara started her aviation interest at PASA as well. She drove 2 hours each week for two years to start her aviation journey.  At the time she was working three part-time jobs, attending school, and had a 3.8 GPA. She is a real go-getter and takes initiative to make sure she meets her personal goals, which are set high.  

She and her mother volunteered at Air Venture last summer for the whole week.  She is currently flying with L’Avion Air out of Ottawa Executive as that is much closer to her home.

Sara is also a senior this year. She has an internship set up with Duncan Aviation. Her long-term goals are to get her A&P certification.


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