More than 300 young people have reached their dream of earning their pilot certificate with support from the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Ray Aviation Scholarship program.
The scholarship program is funded by the Ray Foundation, managed by EAA, and administered through the EAA Chapter network. Through the program, EAA is able to provide deserving youths up to $11,000 to help cover flight training expenses. EAA is receiving $1.8 million from the Ray Foundation for 2023.
“The cost of flight training can be a barrier for many aspiring pilots, so EAA working with the Ray Foundation helps break down the barrier and make the goal of becoming a pilot even more attainable for future generations,” says Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member programming. “We’ve found that more than 80 percent of Ray Aviation Scholars are completing their pilot training, which is the complete opposite ratio of those who would start flight training on their own, so this program’s outcomes are having a direct, significant effect on the pilot population.”
There are EAA chapter and scholar eligibility requirements for the Ray Aviation Scholarship that indicate a commitment to success. Once a chapter is approved for the program, it nominates the chosen scholar for EAA’s final review. Many chapters are granted the full $11,000 for their selected scholar, but some chapters have committed 25 percent of the award, to secure their slot in the program. All EAA and divisional chapters in the United States and Canada are eligible for a grant up to $11,000.
The Lightspeed Aviation Foundation and EAA award a Zulu 3 headset to each scholar after they complete solo flight or, if they soloed pre-scholarship, after passing the written exam. This is meant to recognize and incentivize the scholar as they progress and ultimately complete flight training.