Aviation scholarship takes off for area students


Students from Butler, Warren, Montgomery and Preble counties planning to study in fields related to aviation have an additional source of financial assistance with the establishment of the Aviation Educational Trust Fund at the Middletown Community Foundation.

The scholarship fund was recently created to administer the assets of the Middletown Aviation Club upon that nonprofit organization’s disbanding.

Starting next year, the Community Foundation will use the fund to award scholarships to students from these four counties seeking a degree or certificate from an accredited university, college or flight school in the areas of aeronautical engineering, airframe mechanics, engine mechanics, commercial pilot’s license, certified flight instructor, or airport management. Those seeking private pilot’s licenses are ineligible.

The Middletown Aviation Club was organized and incorporated in August 1940 to develop and promote interest in aviation while at the same time encouraging and assisting flying safety and proficiency in the Middletown area. A pilot’s license was not required for membership, as it was open to anyone with an interest in aviation.

The club at one point had its own clubhouse at Middletown Regional Airport/Hook Field, but it was demolished to build the airport’s current entrance. After that, they met monthly with a guest speaker from aviation in the upstairs break room at the airport’s main hangar. Club members also participated in field trips to the Indianapolis Air Traffic Control Center, Dayton Approach Control, Dayton and Cincinnati airport control towers, Springfield ANG Base, and B-17 and P-38 restoration projects.

Over the years, the club sponsored aviation events such as pancake fly-ins, group flights, treasure hunts, and spot landing. They also co-hosted Middletown visits of the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds in addition to assisting other organizations with their fly-in conventions at Hook Field.

“Although the Middletown Aviation Club no longer exists, its objectives will continue to be fulfilled through the Aviation Educational Trust Fund by helping those who wish to pursue a career in aviation,” noted the club’s final president, Bill Wilmer of Middletown.

In addition to establishing the scholarship fund, the club made a $5,000 contribution from its remaining assets through the Community Foundation to support the work of Springfield-based Honor Flight, which provides free flights for veterans to view the Washington, D.C., memorials dedicated to their sacrifices to our nation. The nonprofit organization gives priority to veterans of World War II and those facing terminal illness. Applications for the scholarship will be available this winter on the Community Foundation’s website, www.mcfoundation.org, and will be due by the end of February. The first scholarship from the fund will be awarded next spring.

“Creating a fund at your Community Foundation to support the cause closest to your heart, be it a scholarship, a fund that supports a specific charity, or an unrestricted fund from which we make grants for various needs in the community, is a quick and easy process,” explained Middletown Community Foundation Executive Director T. Duane Gordon.