Chapter 517

Missoula, MT


The Ray Aviation Scholars program provides up to $10,000 scholarships to young people who are seeking to learn to fly. The Ray Foundation has provided $1 million to fund the scholarship program, which seeks to improve the flight training success rate from the current industry standards of 20 percent to 80 percent for program participants. Local EAA chapters are responsible for identifying youth for the Ray Aviation Scholarship program and mentoring them through flight training. The Ray Foundation is furthering the legacy of James Ray, an EAA lifetime member who was dedicated to aviation and youth education. The initiative is designed to help meet the tremendous future demand for pilots and associated aviation careers. The scholarship is designed to support a flight student through both written and practical segments of flight training that are part of successful FAA pilot certification.

EAA 517 applied to receive one of the 100 scholarships for this year and based on our submission information was granted one for 2019.  Ray Aten is the scholarship coordinator and interviewed various young adults to receive our grant.

The fortunate recipient of the EAA 517 Ray Scholarship is MICHAEL ZIELINSKI of Stevensville. 


 Michael is an Eagle Scout, 2 Silver Palms, with the Florence Boy Scout Troop 1115. His first completed merit badge was Aviation which was mentored by Ray Aten. Michael’s first flight was one of the requirements of the merit badge which served a dual purpose as a Young Eagles flight.

Michael is an honor student at Stevensville High School and is currently a Cadet Captain in the Civil Air Patrol with the Missoula Composite Squadron. With CAP, Michael has had Orientation (O-Rides) flights which have further spurred his interest in flying. 

Michael is enrolled with Bitterroot Aviation at the Stevensville airport (32S) for his flight instruction and Greg Eastwood is his CFI.

Michael is also helping out with our monthly Young Eagles flights as a ground crew volunteer.


Michael's first flight lessons with CFI Greg Eastwood:






 Michael's  SOLO Flight:






Each year EAA Chapter 517 sponsors three scholarships in coordination with Montana Aeronautics.

The 2019 recipients were:

Post Solo:  Bannack Kisthard  (Red Lodge Flying Club)

Aviation Career Training: Carina Bracy (Rocky Mountain College)

2nd Year A&P:  No one qualified this year


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