Ada High students receive aviation scholarships

Ada Schools Aviation Program Foundation scholarship winners, Ada City Schools officials and foundation members are shown Friday at Ada Regional Airport. Front row, from the left: scholarship winners Dalton Carson, Jay Shenberger, Tanner Gilliam, Hannah Barnes, Eric Pulliam and Marco Powell. Not pictured is scholarship winner Rylan Burrows. Back row, from the left: Ada City Schools Superintendent Mike Anderson; Sharon Holland, Bill Bailey, Bill Holland, Mack Smith, Don Childers, Charles Meyer, Clyde Leach and Jamie Leach, all of the foundation; and Paula Kedy, executive director of academics and instruction.

Seven Ada High School students will be able to continue their education in aviation, with the help of the newly created Ada Schools Aviation Program Foundation.

The foundation announced Friday that it had awarded $2,500 scholarships to students Tanner Gilliam, Rylan Burrows, Hannah Barnes, Dalton Carson, Marco Powell, Eric Pulliam and Jay Shenenberger. The scholarships are designed to help students who are considering careers in aviation or aeronautics.

Gilliam, who graduated from Ada High School earlier this week, said the scholarship will pay for his private flying time during his first semester at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant.

“It’ll help me tremendously with the financial aid of it,” he said.

Gilliam said he plans to study aviation sciences, with an eye to becoming a commercial pilot.

Carson, Pulliam and Powell will use their scholarships to pay for flight training so they can earn certification as private pilots.

Carson, who will be a senior at Ada High in the fall, said aviation education offers him a chance to pursue his interests in engineering, flying and meteorology. He added that he is especially interested in learning to fly drones, which would be useful in the meteorology field.

“I want to design drones to go into weather masses so you can read the data from the fronts and stuff,” Carson said.

Pulliam, who will begin his junior year in the fall, said he has been interested in aviation since early childhood, when he saw pictures in a book about military aviation.

“One day, I heard that Ada had a new aviation class, and I thought, “Well, that sounds pretty neat. I want to go and try that out,’” he said. “That was something really cool.”

Pulliam said he wants to be a naval military pilot one day, but he does not want to pursue a career in commercial aviation. He said he would rather be a hobbyist — and if he were to hold a civilian job, it would probably involve building a new type of plane engine.

Powell, who will also be a junior in the fall, said he is interested in seeking a career as an aerospace engineer.

“I love design,” he said. “I love 3D CAD (computer-aided design) and all that kind of stuff.”

Supporting aviation education

A group of Ada residents formed the ASAP Foundation so they could provide scholarships to students who want to learn the skills they need to land jobs in aviation or aeronautics, said Paula Kedy, executive director of academics and instruction for Ada City Schools. She added that the scholarships have two purposes: Helping students continue their aviation education in college or allowing them to pursue certification as private pilots.

“We have two young men that are going into aviation in college, so they are getting some scholarship funds for that,” she said. “The younger ones are getting private pilot certification training, so they’re going to learn to fly.

“The scholarships will provide them enough to at least get to solo. They’ll have personal responsibility after that to finish their pilot’s license, but this will get them to solo.”

Kedy said the younger students who received scholarships for flight training this year could apply for the post-secondary scholarships next year.

Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.