The Air Force JROTC Flight Academy, Chief of Staff Private Pilot Scholarship program, is an approximately 8-week summer aviation training program, conducted at partnering universities nationwide. Upon successful completion of the program, students are awarded a Private Pilot’s Certification. The Flight Academy is intended to inspire and encourage high school youth toward aviation careers.
The scholarship program is a collaborative effort between the aerospace industry and the Air Force to address a national pilot shortage. Currently, Boeing predicts an annual need to hire 6,000 civilian pilots a year for the next 20 years. Military needs quickly push that number over 8,000. According to industry and military leadership, the nation is facing a pilot shortage “crisis."
The Flight Academy also addresses a secondary national issue of diversity. Aviation is one of the least diverse professions in industry. Currently, women make up less than 6% of pilots and minorities represent less than 10%. Air Force Junior ROTC currently has 125,000 cadets enrolled in high schools across the nation and is the Air Force’s most diverse program. Minorities represent 58% of the Air Force Junior ROTC student body and females make up 40%. Cadets selected for the flight academy represented female and minorities more than three times the national averages.
The inaugural year of the Flight Academy was Summer 2018, where 120 cadets attended six universities.
In 2019, Air Force Junior ROTC expanded the program and awarded scholarships to 150 students, who will attend a flight school during the summer at one of eleven partnering universities. Additionally, the Flight Academy was opened up to 20 Air Force ROTC and four Civil Air Patrol cadets. Air Force Junior ROTC’s primary mission is to develop citizens of character, in this aspect, students have a chance to earn their private pilot’s license, gain a positive college experience and receive 12 college credits.
Pending continued resourcing, the Air Force plans to expand the program for more students and with additional universities in the coming years.
Current partnering universities are:
Who can apply?
Cadets currently enrolled in Air Force Junior ROTC programs in their high schools, who have a minimum 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) may apply. Cadets must be in good standing in their unit, take an Air Force aviation aptitude test, provide instructor and school endorsements and must have a strong interest in aviation and a “never-quit” attitude.
How does this help curb the pilot shortage and increase diversity amongst the career filed?
AFJROTC currently has a 58% and 40% minority and female demographic, respectively. The scholarship program aims to grow to 2,000 cadets annually. Based on sheer numbers in the AFJROTC program, the scholarship has the potential to produce 1,160 new minority pilots each year with 800 potential female pilots. With just over 400 female pilots (FAA as of 31 Dec 2016) between the ages of 16-19, AFJROTC could double the current demographics every year.
Which universities are participating in the program? Is this a special summer camp?
Partnering universities all offer Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI)-accredited (or AABI-member), FAA Part 141 flight programs and will be located throughout the United States territories. AFJROTC provides the scholarship to attend a university program. This is NOT a summer camp. The program is managed by each university and holds the same standard as its current university students. Cadets live, study, and perform at or above the standards. Each cadet will be provided a transcript (upon request) from the university they attended.
What benefit does this scholarship provide to universities already operating at maximum throughput?
One sixth of all licensed pilots hold a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) rating. Each partnering university has the potential to influence two to six future CFIs for their respective university’s flight program. Currently, the average tenure of a professional pilot student working as a CFI is approximately one year. Through this scholarship, a Flight Academy selectee could provide two to three years’ service as a CFI before leaving college.
What measures do universities have to put in place to protect and supervise minors?
All partnering universities regularly host weeks-long, summer programs for high school kids and minors. Each program’s rules and guidelines vary, however, measures are taken by the university to ensure safety and accountability of participating cadets at all times, to include supervised time spent in classroom, flight instruction, travel and transportation, and chaperoned down-time in cadet housing and on campus.
Are there additional costs for the cadets associated with this program?
The Air Force Junior ROTC Flight Academy scholarship will cover the total cost of room, board, tuition, books, and fees for this program. HQ Air Force Junior ROTC will fund transportation from the cadet’s unit to the nearest airport. Once arrived, transportation will be provided from university to/from the airport. The only additional cost to cadets will be for incidentals the cadet might want.
Can Non – US citizens apply?
Yes. If selected for a scholarship, Non – US citizen cadets will have to apply for and pass a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) check in order to continue in the process (reimbursable from HQ Air Force Junior ROTC).
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