Foundation provides summer flight training scholarships

The Connor Burton Aviation Foundation is providing 27 Kansas State University Salina aviation students with $84,000 in flying scholarships to help with the cost of flight fees over the summer.

The purpose of the Summer Aviation Program is to help students achieve additional flight ratings as quickly as possible and to move them toward the goal of becoming certified flight instructors, university officials said. This year’s goals for the program are for 5-10 students to earn flight instructor ratings, and another 10-15 students to reach other certificates and ratings.

The students will fly Cessna 172 Skyhawks, Beechcraft Barons and Beechcraft Bonanzas, depending on where they are in their training. They will work to earn flight ratings ranging from private pilot to certified flight instructor instrument.

“My goal is to be an airport manager, so it’s important that I am familiar with all aspects of aviation,” said Tyler Lewis, junior in airport management from Aurora, Colo., and one of the scholarship recipients. “The Summer Aviation Program lets me focus on flying during the summer so that I don’t have to worry about it as much during the rest of the year when I’m focused more on my management classes.”

“These scholarships keep students flying and working on ratings all summer instead of taking a break that might put them behind,” said Kurt Barnhart, head of K-State Salina’s aviation department. “Some students are able to work on ratings that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach, such as certified flight instructor instrument, either because of time or the financial burden.”

“The purpose of the Connor Burton Aviation Foundation is to help students achieve their dream of becoming a pilot,” said Jan Burton, the foundation’s chief advocate. “We’re trying to help alleviate the need for costly student loans and expedite their flight training. In addition, this program will help with the looming pilot shortage by helping more students become flight instructors to teach more students.”

This is the second summer for the program — 24 K-State Salina students received scholarships totaling more than $70,000 in 2011. Foundation officials say they intend to continue developing the program to benefit more students in the future by involving the aviation industry and more interested individuals.

In addition to subsidizing student flying time, the Burton Foundation sponsors attendance at flying competitions and air races, sponsors a speaker series, and supports other flying activities intended to upgrade students’ experience and improve their pilot capabilities. More than $250,000 has been donated to Kansas State University’s aviation program since 2008 to support these initiatives.

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