The Santa Ynez Valley Airport is unusual among general aviation airports-it’s healthy! The fiscal soundness of the Santa Ynez Valley Airport Authority and its Board’s desire to contribute to the community, led to the recent decision to begin an aviation scholarship program. The scholarship was set into place to provide one student a 100% financial credit to apply toward the completion of a private pilot program with a private pilot license as the end result. The Santa Ynez Valley Airport Authority is a non-profit, public-benefit corporation, which manages the airport for the County of Santa Barbara. The Board is made up of aviation users and non-users so there is a blend between the community and the airport’s desires. “Having such a varied mix of Board members that come to the table with a wealth and variety of business experiences, has really helped this airport think outside the box,? stated the Chairman of the Board, Willy Chamberlin. “This creative thinking, has had a tremendous positive impact on the success of the airport and has helped us come to a place where we can offer a scholarship of this kind and generosity.”
The aviation scholarship was initiated in the airport’s 2002 fiscal year. An inaugural recipient was recommended by the Scholarship Committee and approved by the Board. The Santa Ynez Valley Airport Aviation Scholarship was awarded to Chris Pace, a young man entering into his junior year at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School. “Christopher’s resume read like a who’s who biography. He was academically excellent, involved in sports and community, and an active participant with his church and the Scouts. Interwoven through it all, was leadership capabilities and strong character. Christopher Pace represented the kind of youth in Santa Ynez Valley that we would like to see benefited as we make this scholarship an annual event” stated Jim Kunkle, the Board’s President.
Fiscal year 2003 saw another crop of excellent applications. “We had the scholarship recipient narrowed down to two equally competitive candidates,” said Kim Joos, the Airport Manager, and so we asked them to interview before the Scholarship Committee, believing one student would rise above the other, making our selection an easier task. Remember, our scholarship program provides for selecting one youth. The interviews were conducted, and given the tremendous backbone and toughness of the committee, we saw our choice was clear. We went to the Board and recommended that they fund both students!” Amy Moore, entering into her senior year, and George Jiminez, entering into his junior year, were approved for full funding.
To date, Christopher Pace has earned his private pilot’s license. Amy Moore and George Jiminez are scheduled to take their check flight this June. The two senior scholarship recipients, Christopher and Amy, have both received appointments to the U.S. Air Force Academy and George will enter his senior year with not just a driver’s license, but a private pilot’s license.
“The bottom line is, we’re about the love of flight” states Jim Kunkle, “and we wanted to share that passion with our local youth. The creation of the Santa Ynez Airport Aviation Scholarship was one way the Santa Ynez Valley Airport Authority could actively participate with a young person in sharing the experience of flying.”
Left to right, Kim Roos, Assistant Airport Manager, Chris Pace, Amy Moore, and George Jiminez.