Avfuel’s pilots rewards program, AVTRIP, rewards members with more than just points and cash awards. Every year since 2000, AVTRIP has awarded a lucky pilot with a $2,000 scholarship to put towards continuing aviation education.
“The aviation community is made up of truly passionate people always eager to learn more,” said Marci Ammerman, Avfuel Vice President, Marketing. “Avfuel’s hope is that our AVTRIP scholarship can give these pilots the boost needed to pursue a goal, be it more flight time, instrument ratings, or flight instructor certification.”
Behind every goal is a story, said Ammerman, which makes picking a recipient as difficult as it is rewarding. “Our application process involves an essay component. We get a personal glimpse into the life of each applicant. We read stories that are heartwarming and heartbreaking; inspirational and inspiring. The common thread that runs through all the essays is how sincerely committed these applicants are to aviation.”
Often, the company selects several semi-finalists for smaller awards, because, Ammerman says, “It becomes next to impossible to pick just one worthy recipient.”
This year’s $2,000 AVTRIP scholarship was awarded to Taylor Ratliff, an Aerospace Administrations and Operations, Professional Pilot major at Oklahoma State University. “I originally came to Oklahoma State University as a pre-vet student,” said Ratliff, whose father is a pilot. “I took a private pilot ground school course as an elective. After my first class, I knew this was the path for me.”
Ratliff, who is involved in aviation-related extracurricular activities such as serving as the Vice President of Oklahoma State’s Women in Aviation chapter and a member of the Flying Aggies, plans to use her funds to soften the overall financial burdens of flight training. “I’m at the point in my aviation training where the costs are really beginning to add up,” she said. “This will mean so much to achieving my goal as a professional pilot.”
A $500 semifinalist award was granted to Joshua Armbruster, chief pilot for AirOptions Aviation. Armbruster has an extensive background in flight instruction and plans to use the scholarship funds to attend an upset training course and earn a tail wheel endorsement.
“This knowledge will make me a safer pilot,” said Armbruster, “but it also will give me the necessary skills and the confidence to better instruct my students.”
Armbruster volunteers his free time with the Young Eagles program and as an Aviation Merit Badge counselor with the Boy Scouts. “I love to work with local organizations to help young people realize their dreams of flight,” he said. “I try and instill the responsibility but also the joy a pilot has when flying.”
Ammerman said that despite the obvious age, experience and gender differences of the candidates, their applications stood out to the scholarship selection team due to their similarities: “Both of these pilots are devoted to general aviation, to the point where they’ve not only committed their professional lives but much of their personal time as well,” she said, adding that it was appealing to help two people at opposite ends of the experience spectrum achieve the same common goal. “Avfuel is thrilled that we can encourage an established pilot who works to inspire the next generation while at the same time assisting a member of that generation.”
In addition to the scholarship funds, AVTRIP rewards applicants, semi-finalists and scholarship recipients with bonus AVTRIP Points that accumulate toward AVTRIP awards.
The Avfuel AVTRIP Scholarship is awarded yearly to aviators pursuing continued aviation education. Winners are chosen based on eligibility requirements and a written essay. Applicants can apply year-round and must be current AVTRIP members.