FLYING Magazine

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you train, one of the constants of aviation is that flight training is expensive. 

For the past five years, Sporty’s Pilot Shop of Batavia, Ohio, has offered scholarships to help fledgling aviators reach their goals. This year’s winner is Kayla Collins from Charleston, South Carolina.

Collins receives the latest $2,500 Sporty’s Pilot Training+ Scholarship as part of the company’s Learn to Fly Month celebration.

“We started the program in 2018,” Mark Wiesenhahn, vice president at Sporty’s, told FLYING. “We’ve awarded 14 scholarships.”

Collins is training at Charleston Flight School with a goal to earn her private pilot certificate and instrument rating this year, followed by her commercial and instructor certificates in 2024. 

Eventually, she hopes to fly for a major airline.

Collins, the daughter of a former U.S. Air Force and FedEx pilot, has always been fascinated with flight, so much so that after graduating from college she worked as a flight attendant until her creative side and a business opportunity took her into the world of interior design.

Although she enjoys her career as a designer, she wanted to explore the world of flight. But like so many, a lack of resources proved to be an obstacle. 

“I never thought I would have the resources to pursue being a pilot,” she said. “But I’ve been working successfully in the interior design industry for more than eight years and have been able to create a stable life for my family, but there has always been a void not being in the exhilarating world of aviation.”

Kayla Collins [Courtesy: Sporty’s]

Aviation means a career change for Collins. 

“Changing careers allows me to challenge myself as a professional and also provides the opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming a pilot while taking care of my family,” she said. “I am taking a huge leap of faith that my investment will pay off, and earning the scholarship is a huge help in my aviation pursuit.”

Collins flies twice a week and has completed her first solo. For ground school she has been using Sporty’s online Learn to Fly Course and flight preparation resources available to her as a Sporty’s Pilot Training+ member.

Sporty’s Pilot Training+ is a membership program that allows access to the company’s library of video-based courses for an annual fee. Membership also includes the opportunity to apply for three $2,500 scholarships awarded annually.

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