Are you sick and tired of trying to figure out how to pay for your flight training or aviation-related degree? You yearn for someone to simply see your passion, recognize your dedication and decide to give you free money to pursue your flight dreams. You may have even started calculating how many years of waiting tables it will take to put yourself through flight school.
News flash: there are a whole plethora of agencies, individuals and organizations who have dedicated funds to helping to put prospective pilots and aviation industry professionals through school.
That’s right – you don’t have to come up with the money all on your own. Simply check out our list of the best aviation scholarships and start applying for as many as possible.
The National Aviation Exploring Committee gives out multiple scholarships each year ranging in value from $5,000 to $10,000. Scholarships are given to recipients who are “studying the technologies and the skills needed in the field of aviation” and who best demonstrate traits that lead to success in the industry. To apply, you must be a registered and active member of an Aviation Explorer post.
One of the most longstanding aviation scholarships is the Amelia Earhart Fellowship which was established in 1938. This $10,000 scholarship is awarded to up to 30 women each year. Recipients must be women who are pursuing their Ph.D/doctoral degree in aerospace-applied sciences or aerospace-applied engineering.
Leroy Homer Jr. was the first officer of United Airlines Flight #93 on the morning of September 11th, 2001. This scholarship is given out in honor of his memory and the memory of the rest of the crew and passengers who fought back against the hijackers and kept that plane from reaching its intended target.
If your short-term aviation dreams revolve around general aviation and earning a private pilot certificate, the Become a Pilot scholarship from non-profit Michigan Takes Flight is a perfect fit. This scholarship is “intended to increase the number of aviation career candidates and help them earn an initial pilot certificate.”
In 1968, Clay Lacy founded a private jet charter company which would go on to be highly successful. Now Clay is giving back to the industry by providing financial support to “the next generation of aviation professionals.” These scholarships are available for either prospective aircraft mechanics or aspiring professional pilots.
The National Gay Pilots Association provides support, advocacy, community and resources for its members as it works to expand the opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender aviation professionals. Members and airline partners sponsor a whole range of scholarships which can net you up to $10,000 toward schooling.
Amount: Up to $10,000
AOPA is one of the premier membership organizations for pilots and one of their valuable offerings is the chance to apply for one of their many scholarship opportunities. With a high school flight training scholarship, teacher flight training scholarship, primary flight training scholarship and advanced rating scholarship, no matter where you are currently at on the pilot certification spectrum, AOPA has the aviation scholarship that will take you to the next level.
Many members of the Experimental Aircraft Association have a burning desire to “pass it forward” and help the next generation of aviators to get into the industry. These donors and benefactors fund a group of scholarships that are available to “those who show the greatest potential to be actively engaged in aviation.”
The National Business Aviation Association supports professionals in a full spectrum of business aviation careers including “pilots, maintenance professionals, schedulers, dispatchers, flight attendants and flight technicians.” Look into the NBAA scholarship opportunities if your aviation goals are more diverse and extend beyond the cockpit.
Amount: Up to $10,000
10. UAA Scholarships
The University Aviation Association provides an open forum for students, faculty and staff of collegiate aviation education programs. To support and help students fund their education, the UAA offers 5 annual scholarships ranging in value from $500 to $3,000.
Amount: Up to $3,000
There are some amazing niche scholarships out there, and if you meet the eligibility requirements, it is definitely worth applying. Whirly-Girls is an association for international women helicopter pilots. Pretty cool, right? If you are a prospective female helicopter pilot, explore one of Whirly-Girls’ many scholarship opportunities and you may find yourself with up to $10,000 in funding to pursue training.
Amount: Up to $10,000
The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is another niche area of aviation. This foundation was created “to ensure that the United States would maintain its leadership in science and technology by supporting some of the very best science, technology, engineering and math college students.” The scholarships started with $1,000 seed money from each of the Mercury 7 astronauts who then continued to build funding through donating the proceeds from their speaking engagements.
Today, applicants can receive up to $10,000 each, and the foundation is able to hand out fifty scholarships a year.
We’ve saved the most lucrative scholarship opportunity for last. If you are pursuing your commercial helicopter pilot certification, listen up. Each year, the FAA chooses one pilot who has completed their PPL(H) at Helicentre Aviation Inc. and awards him or her a fully funded training for CPL(H). This includes “all post-PPL(H) hour building, ground school for the commercial written exam and the CPL(H) flying course – a total of up to 110 flying hours.”
Find even more aviation scholarships
Remember, the donors who are sponsoring these scholarships also have a love of aviation and want to help you break into or advance in this industry. Let your passion and excitement shine through in your application and you will be one step closer to realizing those dreams.
Once you get an aviation scholarship, and you're ready to start training check out our fine selection of Flight Training Material.