In our third installment of the Profiles in Early Flight – Ray Scholar Stories, we continue to share these young pilots’ stories as they fulfill their obligations as a Ray Scholar on their journey to getting their licenses. We hope you are enjoying these testimonials and can help spread their stories to others. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
I first flew with my grandfather when I was very young, but by the time that I was old enough to begin my aviation journey he was not able to fly anymore. I attended my local Young Eagles rally for the first time in 2015 and I was hooked. Through EAA Chapter 1219, I was able to surround myself with a group of great men and women that helped me build my love of aviation. Through the years of flying with them, I found great fellowship with the members of 1219. They took me under their wing and helped me achieve my dream of flight.
I was afforded several opportunities to fly with members of the chapter, and they sent me to the EAA Advanced Air Academy twice, where I met many great people and one of my best friends. By the time my junior year of high school rolled around, I caught wind of the Ray Aviation Scholarship, and was extremely blessed when our chapter was chosen as a recipient. I was awarded the Ray Aviation Scholarship and completed my private certificate with the money provided.
The Ray Scholarship did not just allow me to finish flight training, I met many great young aviators, one of which happened to become my suitemate in college. We have since become great friends and we make an effort to share the love of aviation with everyone we come in contact with. I have been given a great opportunity through the scholarship, and I can credit the scholarship with allowing me to follow my dreams of becoming a professional aviator. I have used my Zulu 3 headset exclusively from the time that I was awarded it until present day, where I am sharing the love of aviation via flight instruction.
I was selected by chapter 35 at 15 years old to be their Ray Scholar for the year and earn my glider pilot’s license. I immediately started my motor glider training out of 5C1, I saved up money from mowing lawns in my neighborhood to buy a used Zulu 2 because I knew of the benefits of using a Lightspeed headset, but I couldn’t afford the latest and greatest.
Fast forward to me being able to go to Oshkosh 2021 and 2022 I was able to meet some of the awesome folk at Oshkosh who told me about Lightspeed’s support of the Ray Scholarship recipients. I was given a brand-new Zulu 3 that I have thoroughly enjoyed using throughout my training and now I have the first one I had as a passenger headset!
I cannot say thank you enough to the EAA, EAA chapter 93, and Lightspeed Aviation for all the mentorship, support, and opportunities that I have gotten. I am so lucky to have gotten the Ray Scholarship, and I would not have wanted to get my private pilot certificate any other way. So many people have shared their time, talents, and knowledge with me, and I am so grateful for this.
Prior to getting the scholarship my interest in aviation started when I was 8 years old. I had flown on an airline flight and shown some interest. My grandparents noticed, and they took me to the EAA museum in Oshkosh. Here I had my first Young Eagles flight. My interest in aviation snowballed from there. I would go to the Madison airport and watch planes takeoff and land, watch aviation content, and do anything else I could to immerse myself in aviation. Eventually it led me to getting the Ray Scholarship.
To get the scholarship I was encouraged to apply by Ms. Diane Ballweg. She taught an aviation class at my high school. After taking both semesters she suggested that I apply. Since then, she has been one of my biggest supporters, a mentor, and a friend. I am very lucky to have met her and have someone like her in my corner.
I completed my private training in March 2020. After that I went on to attend the University of Dubuque as a Flight Operations major. Here I got my Instrument rating, Commercial certificate, Certified Flight Instructor certificate, instrument add-on to CFI, and commercial multiengine add-on. Finally, back in April I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Flight Operations and a minor in Aviation Management. It has been a very busy, but very rewarding couple of years.
Now that I have graduated, I am flight instructing at the University to share my passion for aviation and to build hours for the airlines. I currently have a job offer from Endeavor Air and I intend on going there. I am also trying to give back to my chapter as they have given so much to me. I have been volunteering and flying for Young Eagle rallies and volunteering/attending other chapter events.
For future aviators there is some advice I would like to share. Be committed to what you are doing. If you study, show up, and try your hardest you can succeed in aviation. Don’t be afraid of failure. It is a part of life, and you will learn the most from your failures. Finally, have fun. Take some time to enjoy your training and make the most of it. There are so many opportunities out there and amazing people to get to know. Thank you so much, I have loved my headset!
I started my journey moving to Fort Myers and keeping a close eye out for aviation related events. I found EAA Chapter 66. Since receiving the Ray Scholar and getting my PPL in 40 hours, I paced back and forth deciding what my next accomplishment would be. With many questions answered and help I received from my chapter, I went on to start training for my ATP certificate. I have been flying everyday with my Zulu 3 headset and often with a passenger in a Cherokee 140. I am on my way!
Flight has fascinated me from a young age, and I can attribute it all to one person. Growing up, I spent countless hours in the skies as my grandma flew me around in her little rented Cessna 172. She is truly a treasure and has been instrumental in me being where I am today. I always wanted to follow in her footsteps and hope to make her proud as a pilot. Afterall, maybe one day I’ll be the one who gets to create the precious memories with my own grandchildren. I would tell anyone going down this road to follow your dreams and surround yourself with an amazing support team to lift you up!
I was thrilled to attend an aviation high school and complete my private during my senior year. Following that I did my instrument before college and am now studying engineering/A&P while building hours toward my commercial. In the future I hope to purchase an aircraft and continue to enjoy fun flying with friends.
Stay tuned for more stories from these determined pilots. We have collected many more months’ worth of stories that we will share over the near future. Congratulations to all of these pilots and Blue Skies!