Thursday, August 01, 2013

Devin, The Winner of a Private Pilot Scholarship, Summer 2013!

We are so happy to announce the second winner for the 2013 Summer Scholarship Program: Devin Ward!

Girls With Wings offers two scholarship opportunities twice yearly. The Private Pilot Scholarship is to help defray the cost of flight training lessons in pursuit of a private pilot certificate. This scholarship is targeting those individuals who have soloed but have not completed the Private Pilot Course. The Private Pilot Scholarship is an award in the amount of $1000.00.

We are doing something simply unprecedented this year and we are super excited to finally be able to share the news with you. We are announcing NUMEROUS awards for our summer program instead of the usual two. Why? Because we are fortunate to receive donations and membership fees that people entrust to us because they believe and support the mission of Girls With Wings. There is no need or benefit to keep cash idling in the bank when the following individuals can take flight!

From Devin:

Straight to the point: My goal is to achieve a private pilot certificate before school starts in late August. I realize this is ambitious considering the limited time left for me to fulfill the requirements, such as cross country flight, but I will work my utmost to make it happen. Furthering my flight skills is important to me, and I love to end each lesson knowing I have improved. In fact, just having flown amazes me and makes me smile in fascination every time. I hope to promote the sheer wonder of flight and the boundless possibilities in life to girls for the Girls With Wings organization. Nothing excites me more than learning, and I love to help people around me to share that excitement. Becoming a role model for the Girls With Wings organization will allow me to inspire girls to try new things that exceed their self-imposed limitations.

To be honest, I don't know exactly know what I want to do later in life; I haven't had an epiphany of the perfect career for myself, haven't had a dream career since I was little to work toward. My path is unclear, but that's OK. I accept life as a learning process. I'll encourage people to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way, no matter if it seems impossible or far from where they see themselves going in the future. I think this is one reason many girls don't even try to experience aviation. Too many people seem stuck to what they view as their realistic potential, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. If people just get out there and try new things, they can discover so much more than they imagined. Or at least, that's what's happened to me. 

My first big opportunity to view the world of aviation was through the Tuskegee Airmen Mile High Flight Program in 2012. I owe my current passion toward flying to them. The program had two phases. Phase 1 was free and open to any who applied and we went to guided tours of aviation-related places each month. To name a few, we went to the Wings Over the Rockies Flight Museum, the Air Force Academy, and even the United Airlines training facility where we had the pleasure of flying their professional training flight simulators. Our penultimate trip in Phase 1 was going up in a glider. By this time only about 15 of the original 25 or so students remained in the program. The glider was amazing. I had never before been in any small aircraft and to soar without any power, yet be completely in control, was an experience I'll never forget. I had been extremely nervous beforehand because I had literally thought aircraft had to be precariously balanced in the air, lest they plummet unceremoniously to the ground, but now I understand the saying "the airplane wants to fly." I even got to handle the controls in the air! The final Phase 1 trip was a flight in a Cessna 182, where again I was very nervous, but in the end wished the flight had been longer. I realized how much I loved being able to look out at the tiny houses and cars below, free as a bird. 

Phase 2 was the really special part of the program. It was only offered to two students of Phase 1 who demonstrated commitment and passion toward aviation through an essay, and an interview, and performance during Phase 1. Phase 2 included fully paid flight training at the Aspen Flying Club until solo, and I am proud to say I was selected. Without that scholarship funding, I would not have receive the training it took to get my solo pilot's license. Before I made it to Phase 2, I hadn't ever imagined myself as a pilot. This opening into the world of flight changed my life, which is how I know the importance of these opportunities and want to help organizations that provide them. 

I've been able to continue my training towards a private pilot's license through the generosity of people who support my passion to fly. My instructor halved his normal price for my training, the same deal given to the Tuskegee Airmen program. The scholarship money would really help me continue my training and reach my goal. 

I realize I haven't touched on the grievances of a woman in a man's world, but that is because I absolutely think a career in aviation is as possible for girls as for boys. Aviation is a wonderful profession for anyone who discovers the joy of flight. I've been welcomed with open wings into the flying community and every pilot I've ever met has encouraged me, given me tips, or just been a pleasure to talk to, even if they are mostly men. If you love it, go for it! If you don't know whether you love it, try it! That's my motto. Now that I know how much I love flight, I'm willing to work to make it part of my future. 

My main message to everyone: Nothing bad can come of experiencing as much as you can. If something new comes along, even if you think you won't fit into the group because of gender or ethnicity or whatever, TRY. It's OK to be unsure. You'll not like some things but be glad you tried. Grab a hold of as many opportunities as possible and appreciate them. Whatever you learn will become surprisingly useful and overlap in everyday life. Be proud for having gone out of your way to do something new, whether it is flying or something else; always stop to consider what you're able to do and how amazing it is. 

We like "straight to the point," Devin, and your main message. We look forward to hearing about your training!

See the details of the 2014 Scholarship program starting January 1st, 2014.

Please note that the scholarships are funded by donations - so we need contributions from people like YOU to keep our program running. We always have way more deserving applicants than funds. Visit our donation page to help.

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