Nicole Blount of Lake Placid, Florida, and Max Davidson of Jurupa Valley, California, have received the initial Ray Aviation Scholarships of up to $10,000 from the Experimental Aircraft Association, allowing these young people to take flight training in their local regions and pursue their dreams of flight.
The Ray Foundation has provided $1 million to EAA to fund Ray Aviation Scholarships for up to 100 young people, as the program seeks to improve the flight training success rate from the current 20 percent level to 80 percent for those participating in the scholarship program. The program is managed by EAA and administered through its chapter network. EAA chapters will be responsible for identifying youths for the Ray Aviation Scholarship program and mentoring them through flight training.
“Through the generous gift of the Ray Foundation, aviation is a pathway to impart important life skills and introduce youths to aviation and aerospace careers,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA CEO and chairman of the board. “This grant furthers the legacy of James Ray, an EAA lifetime member who was dedicated to aviation and youth. Working with EAA chapters, we will grow this initiative to help meet the tremendous future demand for pilots and associated aviation careers.”
Blount was selected in conjunction with EAA Chapter 1240 based in Sebring, Florida. She attends Lake Placid High School in Florida and is enrolled in the aerospace course there.
“I have been introduced to the aerospace world through my high school,” Blount said. “I think that learning to fly will broaden my opportunities in life, as well as grant me richer experiences.”
Davidson, a student at Patriot High School in Jurupa Valley, was surprised with the scholarship award during EAA Chapter 1’s 65th anniversary celebration in Riverside, California.
“I couldn’t believe it when my name was called to be awarded the scholarship,” Davidson said. “EAA members always told me if I was interested, good things would happen … It’s every dream come true!”
Scholarship namesake James Ray, who died in April 2017, was a longtime supporter of EAA programs and youth initiatives. One of his most visible areas of support was financing the EAA Air Academy Lodge that opened in 1998. This residence facility supports the annual EAA Air Academy, the world’s longest running aviation youth camp, which is held in Oshkosh each summer.
EAA chapters will play a critical role in the success of the Ray Aviation Scholarship program. Chapters interested in participating must be prequalified by EAA through an application process. If selected, they will mentor and support the scholarship recipient throughout their flight training journey. As a Ray Aviation Scholarship Fund participant, candidates will also commit to volunteer service with the local EAA chapter.