On Dec. 2, Rachel Conklin earned her private pilot certificate, becoming the first pilot “built” by the “Build-a-Pilot” Scholarship Program created by EAA Chapter 1280 in Newburgh, N.Y.
The scholarship was created in 2007 to assist a talented and dedicated young person in becoming a pilot, according to chapter officials. The winner of the partial scholarship was chosen after a competition that included a vigorous written test, application review and personal interview.
Rachel, now 17, was selected in February 2008 from a group of five finalists after achieving a near perfect score (54/55) on a rigorous “knowledge” exam that would tax most veteran aviators, officials note.
Since then, she, and her instructor, experienced the interruptions common in training caused by life on the ground and the weather above it. However, on Dec. 2, FAA Designated Examiner Peggy Naumann, issued her certificate, observing that she had “aced” the oral and that her performance in the aircraft was “at least a 9.5/10 — an excellent performance.”
Rachel lives in Washingtonville, N.Y., with her parents and sister. She is already a licensed glider pilot and concert violinist (band camp each summer was one of the ground-based distractions, chapter officials noted).
Members of Chapter 1280 raised the funds for her training, nearly all of it from their own donations. Chapter officials note that special recognition is due CFII Bob Spearing (pictured, with Rachel) and Mary Radford, owners of the training aircraft, for their sacrifices to ensure Rachel completed her training.