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The B.C. Aviation Council has handed out more than $90,000 in scholarships as part of its annual Silver Wing Awards program.
The scholarships are open to students enrolled in aviation and aerospace education programs across B.C. In addition to helping students deal with financial pressures, the scholarship program aims to help offset the industry’s critical talent shortage, which existed even before the Covid-19 pandemic depleted the workforce.
The financial awards are also intended to support minorities, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals and women – who hold only six per cent of commercial pilot licences globally – as they pursue aviation and aerospace careers.
“This year, we were delighted to award $91,250 in scholarships,” said Michael Dery, an aviation lawyer who chairs the BCAC’s awards and scholarship committee. “Ours is the largest aviation scholarship program in Canada. We’re going to keep growing and we are aiming to be well over $100,000 in scholarships next year.”
Scholarship values ranged from approximately $1,300 up to $10,000.
Oliver Strim, 17, earned the largest award, receiving the $8,000 John Anderson Family Scholarship. Established in 2013, the scholarship offers a B.C. student aged 16 to19 the opportunity to obtain a private pilot licence. (A pilot must obtain a private license before pursuing a commercial licence.)
Strim has earned a private pilot license from Coastal Pacific Aviation in Abbotsford and is now studying for his commercial pilot license.
“I would like to sincerely thank the Anderson family for their continued support in helping young people achieve their goal of learning to fly,” said Strim.
Pilot trainee Elizabeth Molyneaux received the Erissa Yong Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to a licensed or student pilot who has overcome adversity. Molyneaux is studying with Alkan Air at the Nanaimo Airport.
Erissa Yong founded the award before it was renamed following her death at age 66 in a plane crash in 2020. Born in Brunei and raised in Malaysia, she overcame her fear of flying, obtained a private pilot license, and was pursuing a commercial license when she died.
The Silver Wing Awards program also honoured many industry veterans for outstanding achievements. Douglas McCrea, president of Smithers-based Central Mountain Air, received the BCAC Lifetime Achievement Award; meanwhile, George Miller, 88, was named a BCAC Lifetime Member.
Among his many accomplishments, Miller served with the Royal Canadian Air Force for 35 years, led the famed Snowbirds air demonstration team and managed the Langley Airport. The long-time pilot remains highly active with BCAC.
This press release was prepared and distributed by the B.C. Aviation Council.