By EAA Chapter 485
EAA Chapter 485, the “Panhandle Pelicans” of Pensacola, Florida, recently set the bar high for support of teenage flight training. Our chapter has participated in the Ray Scholarship program since its inception, with Ray Scholarship Coordinator Craig Spoke, EAA 736923, awarding our sixth Ray Scholarship on June 11, 2022. Our fifth and sixth scholars are post-solo, and the first four are all private pilots, who passed their FAA written and checkride on the first attempt. Three former Ray scholars have commenced their instrument training. One Ray scholar graduate has “paid it forward” by giving 10 Young Eagles flights, and two more are planning to start flying Young Eagles at our next rally this fall.
But the big news is that immediately after the June 11 Ray Scholarship award, this level of success convinced a generous chapter member, who chooses to remain anonymous, to fully fund three more $10,000 flight training scholarships! These have been granted to our remaining applicants for the 2022 Ray Scholarship. “We typically interview 4-6 applicants each year for the Ray, and always feel badly for those who don’t get selected,” said Chapter President Ray Moser, EAA Lifetime 702188. “This year we had three other, very well qualified applicants for the Ray. They were all surprised to hear of this opportunity. Two separate award ceremonies were held due to scholar availability. Individual chapter mentors have been assigned to each of these three winners, and they have all started flight training.”
Chapter 485 uses volunteer chapter CFIs and ground instructors to teach selected ground school subjects to our scholarship winners in a classroom environment. The header photo shows our three most recent scholarship winners, Jacob, Emily, and Cody, attending ground school in the chapter clubhouse. We have found this a useful augmentation to the Sporty’s online ground school, to improve FAA written test scores. We continue to encourage local flight schools to restart classroom ground schools that were put on hold during the COVID pandemic.
We are also blessed with five flight schools within 25 miles of our clubhouse, which is centrally located in the Pensacola area. We maintain a good working relationship with all of them. This allows us to pick one geographically close to the scholar’s home, optimizing the time spent on flight lessons. We typically have been able to negotiate a discount on the aircraft rental rate.
Lastly, we celebrate and document this joyous success on our website, EAA485.org.