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Lt. David Schmitz Foundation Memorial Flight Scholarship for Young Aviators

Even at a young age, David Schmitz knew he wanted to be a pilot. With the support of his parents, he took his first flying lessons at 16 and earned his private pilot license at 17 (the FAA minimum age for airplanes).


After high school, Dave went on to study at Mesa College in the San Diego area. While a student at Mesa, he also enrolled in Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) at San Diego State University (SDSU) and was one of the top cadets in his class. Just prior to graduating from SDSU, Dave decided to enlist in the Air Force as a loadmaster on the C-17 Globemaster. He was stationed at McChord AFB near Tacoma, Washington where he was known for his radio “whistle.”



While serving as a loadmaster, Dave began studying at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to complete his undergraduate degree. With his sights still set on becoming a fighter pilot, Dave applied to Officer Training School (OTS) just a few credits shy of completing the degree. Because his GPA from classes at SDSU did not meet the threshold for OTS, Dave’s first application for a pilot slot was denied. Undeterred, he persevered, completed his degree, and in doing so raised his GPA above the requirement for OTS. His second application was successful and he was awarded a pilot training slot with the Air Force.


Dave graduated top of his class in pilot training and was assigned to fly the F-16. His goal of becoming a fighter pilot now realized, he proved to be a skilled aviator and valued member of his unit. Sadly, Dave lost his life during a nighttime training sortie at Shaw AFB on the evening of June 30, 2020. His family and close friends established the Lt. David Schmitz Foundation Memorial Scholarship for Young Aviators in Dave’s honor.


“Dave's story has inspired so many. He inspired people to be the best of themselves, to be a better friend, a better spouse, a better Airman, and his legacy must live on and be honored,“ the Foundation reports. “This foundation is dedicated to providing scholarships to young men and women with incredible potential, who much like Dave, who may have been told "no", many times on their journey. It is our belief, that those driven, intelligent, incredible young individuals that are told “no” one too many times, must also have resources that can help them realize their dreams.


There are two types of awards: $2500 for flight training and $774 for educational expenses. The scholarship awards are open to U.S. citizens between 17-27 years of age who are pursuing a career as a military or civilian pilot. An application is required, along with two letters of recommendation, school transcripts, resume, and an essay about a challenge the applicant has overcome.


Stick and Glider reached out to the Foundation to verify if glider flight training is eligible for the scholarship. Major Patrick Bruton, President of the Foundation and a friend of Dave and his family states, “The scholarship can be applied towards glider flight training as long as their desire is to become a professional pilot (military or civilian) and not just do it as a hobby.”


To read more about Dave’s story of perseverance and military service, please visit the Foundation website and Instagram page.


To learn more about glider flight scholarships, read this article.


All media used with permission from the Foundation.


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