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Regional Representation

Scholarships Open Doors to Business Aviation’s Future

As the industry tries to meet workforce challenges through career fairs, mentoring and other strategies, local and regional business aviation groups are also using scholarship programs to offset the cost of flight training and professional development courses. Scholarships can strengthen the community and forge vital personal relationships that encourage industry newcomers to stay in the region.

During the past year, the Ohio Regional Business Aviation Association (ORBAA) has doubled its scholarship offerings from $5,000 to $10,000, says Evelyn Merkle, former chair of ORBAA’s scholarship committee. “We’ve amended our programs to allocate funds that fit each applicant’s career path – pilot, maintenance, dispatcher or any field within business aviation,” Merkle says. “These changes have been key to growing our reach across the entire state.”

Staying in touch with nearby colleges helps maintain those relationships, says ORBAA President Mike Smith. “Going to schools to speak with administrators and students ensures scholarship awareness, connects them with the industry and helps grow the pool of applicants,” Smith says.

It’s also important to include members in the process, to foster a sense of pride throughout the organization. “We ask the members what they find valuable – especially those who contribute to the program – and we encourage them to hire [scholarship] recipients,” says Ashley Charnley, chair of the Georgia Business Aviation Association (GBAA). “This gives further ownership to members and strengthens donor relationships,” she says.

“We must create a range of options that cater to – and appeal to – a broad range of people, roles and career paths. Southern California Aviation Association’s ‘Level Up Scholarship’ does exactly that.”

Phil Derner NBAA Western Regional Director

NBAA Western Regional Director Phil Derner says diverse thinking is key. “There’s no one-size-fits-all for scholarships,” says Derner. “We must create a range of options that cater to – and appeal to – a broad range of people, roles and career paths. The Southern California Aviation Association’s ‘Level Up Scholarship’ does exactly that, and it’s that kind of thinking that makes a difference in the aviation community.”

Approaching its 30th anniversary, GBAA has offered $900,000 in cumulative awards. For groups looking to start a program, Charnley suggests remembering that one scholarship can change a life. “The first gift can be the hardest, but with the effort of your board, your awards are truly making a difference,” she says. “Start with one, and soon, you’ll have decades of experience and hundreds of newcomers with passion to help nurture and lead the next generation.”

Review NBAA’s resources for regional groups at


NBAA Joins MA Groups on Sustainability, Amid Hangar Opposition

NBAA is collaborating with the Massachusetts Business Aviation Association and Massachusetts Airport Management Association to promote community understanding about industry efforts toward sustainability and hangar construction at Laurence G. Hanscom Field (BED) in Bedford, MA. The project has attracted the ire of local lawmakers and activists, who assert the new facilities will negatively impact the climate by attracting more business jet traffic.

“We are working to educate all levels of state and local government, as well as the public, on the economic drivers in business aviation within Massachusetts, the industry’s efforts to mitigate climate impact, and the committed focus on leading sustainability innovations to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Brittany Davies, NBAA’s Northeast regional director.

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