Helicopters Magazine

HAI awards $70K in scholarships

February 28, 2019  By Helicopters Staff

Helicopter Foundation International (HFI), the charitable arm of Helicopter Association International, announced the 20 recipients of scholarships for 2019. Available to aviation students around the world, these scholarships support HFI’s mission to educate the next generation of helicopter professionals.

This year’s awards include six scholarships for students in helicopter maintenance technician programs, four scholarships for pilots working toward earning their commercial helicopter ratings, one for safety professionals, and seven for established maintenance professionals seeking training for specific helicopters or components.

New this year is a pair of scholarships for students at Southern Utah University (SUU) for pilot training in specific flight labs.

“The cost of education in aviation in high, both for pilots and maintenance personnel,” said Allison McKay, vice president, HFI. “So often, this requires a student to split their time between academics and working to pay for their education. Through our scholarship program, we help to offset this burden and allow the students to focus on continuing their education. We offer our congratulations to this year’s recipients.”

HFI funds these scholarships — this year worth approximately $70,000 — through donations, auctions, other fundraising events, and direct funding by SUU. As a non-profit foundation, HFI also supports helicopter safety programs and the preservation of the history of the helicopter industry.


Each year, HFI presents four $5,000 scholarships to pilots working toward earning their commercial helicopter rating so that they may pursue employment as a helicopter pilot. This year’s recipients are Sakaya Arai of Beverly Hills, California; Charles Beesley of Cole Camp, Missouri; Melissa Cooper of Kailua, Kona, Hawaii; and Joyce Yu of Portland, Oregon.

Recipients of the new flight training scholarships at Southern Utah University, worth up to $20,000 each, are Brendon Peterson of Ionia, Michigan; Kaylee Elliot of Cedar City, Utah.

Additionally, HFI awards up to six $2,500 scholarships for students in maintenance technician programs. This year, HFI awarded the scholarships to Evan Falk of Holt, Michigan; Tracy Geest of Tremonton, Utah; Hamin Kirn of Williamsport, Pennsylvania; Michael Ranker of Laurel, Maryland; Noah White of Cornerbrook, Newfoundland-Labrador, Canada; and Carlos Ybarra of Waco, Texas.

HFI offers the Michelle North Scholarship for Safety, awarded this year to Joshua Chason of Braselton, Virginia. North is a past chairman of Helicopter Association International’s (HAI) Safety Committee, an educator, and an industry-recognized helicopter safety expert and advocate. This scholarship provides the recipient with full tuition to the HFI Safety Management program at HAI HELI-EXPO.

HFI also oversees the Bill Sanderson Aviation Maintenance Scholarships, administering the program on behalf of HAI’s Technical Committee. Offered in conjunction with airframe, engine, and avionics manufacturers, recipients use the scholarships to attend airframe- or equipment-specific training courses with stipends of up to $1,600.

Manufacturers participating in the program for 2019 include: Airbus, Honeywell, Leonardo, MD Helicopters, Pratt and Whitney, Rolls-Royce, Honeywell, and Safran Turbomeca. Recipients of the scholarships and stipends this year include: Paul Pelletier of Columbia, Connecticut (Airbus); Cody Bentzel of Williamsport, Pennsylvania (Leonardo); Ethan Mutschler of Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania (Pratt and Whitney); Klade Kerr of Timmons, Ontario, Canada (MD Helicopters); Daniel Galica of Tinley Park, Illinois (Honeywell); Evan Falk or Holt, Michigan (Rolls-Royce); and Cullen Thompson of Mountain, Ontario, Canada (Safran Turbomeca).


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