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Ben Peters, 19, received the $1,000 U.S. scholarship just as he completed his Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – M training at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus. The winning scholars must be enrolled in an aviation-related program at an educational institution.
“This will really help,” said Peters. “The simple fact is, my current post-secondary education would not be possible without this generous contribution.”
Peters, whose father works at Kelowna Flightcraft, has been pursuing a career in aviation virtually since he learned to read.
“I’ve wanted to be involved in aviation ever since I was a wee little lad,” Peters said. “While others were reading Dr. Seuss, I was flipping through my dad’s airplane books.”
But financial considerations ruled out commercial pilot training, so he spent his summer following high school graduation attending the Glider Pilot Scholarship Course with the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, and from there enrolled in the Okanagan College program, conducted in partnership with Northern Lights College.
Now with the 62-week portion of the program under his belt, he’s off to Dawson Creek to complete the remainder of his AME-M training.
“I can’t imagine what I’d do other than be around airplanes,” he said.
Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – M instructor Dale Martell said the fact Peters was able to secure an international scholarship speaks volumes about his student’s commitment.
“It’s a wonderful testament to his passion for aviation,” he said.
Martell said the scholarship also serves to link Peters up with the tight community of aviation professionals – including Dave Millar from Alpine Helicopter, who first brought the scholarship to everyone’s attention.
Millar is the co-chairman of the Okanagan College/Northern Lights College AME – M program advisory committee, but he’s also the International Cessna 170 Association B.C. rep.
“When I saw the award, I asked if it was open to Canadians, and they said yes,” Millar said. “There were other Canadians from other institutes who were eligible as well, but Ben won and they announced it at the annual convention in Denver, Colorado.”
Millar took time to congratulate Peters at near the Kelowna Flying Club where Millar ties down his vintage 1948 Cessna. When Millar mentioned the aircraft came from Flin Flon, Manitoba, shoptalk flew between the generations.
“My dad was born in Flin Flon,” Peters said. Minutes later, Millar was opening the cowlings on his Cessna for Peters to take a look.
Watching it all unfold, Martell couldn’t help but think the scholarship went to the best candidate.
“He’s going to have a life-long career in aviation and twenty years from now he’ll be one of those people who is helping the next generation.”