Helping young people seeking an aviation career


In many of my past columns I have focused on our Freedom to Fly Fund (formerly the Special Action Fund), and with good reason. This fund provides the funding COPA needs to counter major issues that threaten to restrict our ability to fly Personal Aircraft in this great country of ours. These actions are generally defensive in nature and must be dealt with as they arise.

On the proactive side of the coin COPA is actively engaged in prompting awareness of Personal Aviation in Canada and in encouraging young people to become involved. Since its launch in 2009 our COPA For Kids program has been increasingly successful in reaching out to our youth and their families in order to introduce the public to the value of Personal Aviation and the opportunities that exist in aviation.

COPA has another very valuable program promoting aviation that you may not know much about, especially if you have never attended a COPA AGM and Fly-in. This is the Neil Armstrong Scholarship Fund. The program is operated under COPA’s charitable foundation, the COPA Flight Safety Foundation, and offers three flight training scholarships annually.

The scholarship fund was established by friends of Neil Armstrong following his tragic death in a Twin Otter accident in Antarctica. Neil was a past President of COPA, a longtime contributor to the COPA magazine, a member of the Aviation Hall of Fame, and a life-long supporter of Personal Aviation. You can read more on the COPA website at:

The purpose of the scholarship program is two-fold — to honour one of Canada’s foremost aviation members and to provide flight training to worthy young people who might not otherwise be able to pursue their love of flight and who exemplify the fine character, optimism and love of adventure which were epitomized by Neil J. Armstrong.

The scholarship fund is administered by COPA and scholarship applications are adjudicated by the Neil Armstrong Fund Committee. This committee is chaired by Trekker Armstrong, Neil Armstrong’s son and currently a COPA Director.

The assets of the fund are approximately $140,000 and the investment return on this provides most of the money needed for the annual scholarships. Donations to the fund from COPA members run around $2,000 per year. With today’s low interest rates the fund income is just able to sustain the three scholarship programs currently established.

The scholarship fund has just recently received a very generous gift from a former COPA member. James Reginald Hutchinson passed away several years ago and in his will he bequeathed $10,000 to be given to the Neil Armstrong Fund when his wife June passed away. June subsequently increased that bequest to $20,000.

June Hutchison passed away this year and COPA received the money from her estate which went into the Neil Armstrong Fund to “help young people seeking an aviation career.”

We would like to express our appreciation for their generosity and thoughtfulness, and extend our condolences to the family and friends of James and June.

The Neil Armstrong Fund Committee together with the COPA Executive Committee is currently looking at ways in which fund raising for this worthwhile program can be increased beyond just asking COPA members for donations. If a dependable source of additional funding can be established then the scholarship program might be expanded to provide even more benefits to young people trying to break into aviation. We all know how expensive this can be.

If you would like to donate to this worthwhile program please visit our website and look under the menu item “Funds and Scholarships”.

Meanwhile, keep your prop spinning.