News from our Ray Aviation Scholarship Coordinator

By Shirl Whelan

Saturday, June 6, 2020 is a day Amy Whelan (EAA Chapter 1541’s 1st ever Ray Aviation Scholar) will never forget. This is the day she passed her checkride and received her Private Pilot Certificate.

Amy and CFII Randy Sharp

Amy completed her training in just over 7 months. She had been taking ground school and working at the airport café but never had the savings to jump into a formal flight training program. She always had the passion and enthusiasm but not the money. The Ray Foundation funding allowed Amy to obtain her goal of obtaining her Private Pilot Certificate before graduating high school and heading off to college. Amy and her family are so thankful for this once in a lifetime opportunity provided by EAA, The Ray Foundation, Lightspeed Aviation Foundation and you, the members of EAA Chapter 1541.

Amy started her flight training October 28th and soloed on December 9th. Her training slowed in December and January for the holidays and high school soccer season. On March 13th high school as she had known it ended. Due to the worldwide pandemic her high school classes were converted to distance learning and her remaining track & field season was cancelled.

Even though she lost the last few months of her senior year in high school and missed out on all the activities that seniors look forward too, Amy did not let this take her down. She used her time wisely to not only complete high school with Academic Honors but to also complete her flight training. She self-quarantined and only went out to attend one on one ground school and to fly. All communication with her friends was via social media and virtual postings to keep her and her CFI safe.

Pilot Amy

Only one day after what would have been her high school graduation (it was cancelled), Amy passed her checkride and earned a Private Pilot Certificate. Amy says, “I now have my pilot certificate in my hands before I have my high school diploma so therefore, I accomplished my goal of becoming a pilot before graduating high school!”

Amy will be leaving the end of June to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida and major in Aeronautical Science with plans to become a commercial pilot. Thanks to the Ray Aviation Scholarship and her earning her Private Pilot Certificate, she will be able to start right into her instrument rating. She looks forward to returning on her college breaks and participating in chapter events like our pancake breakfasts, working with the Young AV8Rs, and attending her first Young Eagles event as a Pilot. She is also hoping to return to AirVenture, this time as an aviation counselor. Amy is a successful example of what youth programs in EAA can provide.

We wish to thank and recognize all the members of EAA Chapter 1541 whose hard work and dedication allowed the chapter the ability to earn this scholarship and the Ray Scholar selection committee who believed in her. A special thank you to EAA and the Ray Foundation who managed and funded the Ray Aviation Scholarship; and to Lightspeed Aviation Foundation for providing Amy with a Zulu 3 headset. We would also like to recognize personally thank Randy Sharp for being Amy’s CFI and Bruce Robinson for the use of his airplane. This success story would never have happened without everyone’s support. Thank you.

Aviation seeds must be transplanted to future generations if we are to see our rich heritage passed on for others to see, to feel, to touch, to fly” Paul H. Poberezny