DAYTON, Ohio — A 15-year-old Mason High School student is the youngest person and first female to win the annual Mitchell Cary-Don Gum Memorial Aviation Scholarship.
The National Aviation Heritage Alliance presented a scholarship certificate on Feb. 14, 2017, to Mullika Pandit, daughter of Miti and Anirudh Pandit of Mason.
The presentation took place in the Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center, a unit of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.
The scholarship provides $1,500 in financial assistance for a student working toward a light sport or private pilot’s certificate. NAHA established the scholarship in memory of Mitchell Cary and Don Gum, two volunteer pilots for Wright B Flyer Inc. who died in 2011.
In her scholarship application, Mullika wrote she learned about “every possible career in the field of aviation” while attending the Dayton area’s Air Camp last year.
“But none of those options grabbed my attention like piloting,” she wrote.
Her Air Camp experience included a flight in a private airplane.
“When I took hold of the controls, the plane and I became one,” Mullika wrote.
Scholarship candidates must be between the ages of 15 and 21 and reside in one of the eight Ohio counties of the National Aviation Heritage Area: Auglaize, Champaign, Clark, Greene, Miami, Montgomery, Shelby, and Warren counties.
Beginning with the next scholarship, NAHA will consider candidates from outside the area who have attended Air Camp and meet the other eligibility requirements.
The National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) is a nonprofit chartered by Congress in 2004 as the management entity for the National Aviation Heritage Area, a region of national historical importance encompassing Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Clark, Warren, Champaign, Shelby, and Auglaize counties. The Heritage Area is one of 49 National Heritage Areas in a program administrated by the National Park Service, and the only one dedicated to aviation heritage.