Chapter 274 — Decatur, Illinois

University student and former Train-A-Pilot, Liz Birch, learns aerobatics at the University of North Dakota.

Laura and Liz Birch with John Durbin and his Cessna Skyhawk 180.

Train-A-Pilot

Program Summary

The Loren Hodge EAA Chapter has initiated an ambitious Train-A-Pilot Program to identify, sponsor, and guide deserving young people to earn a private pilot license as a beginning step in their achievements in the field of aviation.

Mission Statement

The Loren Hodge Aviation Scholarship Foundation is organized within the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 274. The Foundation is dedicated to providing an opportunity in aviation for highly motivated dedicated bright young men and women who live in the Decatur area. This will be achieved in a ground and flight training program.

Eligibility Requirements & Rules

The eligibility Requirements for the prospective candidate are as follows:

  1. The candidate must be sixteen to eighteen years of age, inclusive.
  2. The candidate must display an interest in aviation.
  3. The candidate must have a grade average of B or higher in academic schoolwork.
  4. The candidate must have parental permission and support to enter the training program. In addition the parents of the candidate must execute a “Hold Harmless” agreement releasing EAA Chapter 274 and the EAA Chapter 274 Loren Hodge Aviation Scholarship Foundation and their officers from any liability for any accident or injury suffered as a consequence of participation in flight training.
  5. The candidate must join and be active in both the Experimental Aviation Association and the local chapter.
  6. Participation in the program includes a full membership in The Decatur Aero Club for one year and you will be required to fulfill all club requirements and obligations.
  7. The candidate will strive to have the time and ability to study and fly five hours per week, subject to the instructor’s schedule and complete the program within 120 days.*
  8. You are expected to pass the FAA written exam before commencing your first solo cross country flight.*
  9. You will be expected to accomplish your first solo flight within the first 18 hours of instruction.*
  10. The candidate must pass the FAA medical examination administered by a designated FAA Medical Examiner before training begins.
  11. The candidate must provide his/her transportation to and from the training site.
  12. The scholarship provides $7,500 towards training.*

*The Train-A-Pilot committee may allocate additional time and payment.

The Train-A-Pilot Scholarship Program

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Loren Hodge Chapter 274 and Decatur Aero Club are cooperating to make it possible for a young person to earn a Private Pilot Certificate with relatively little cash outlay on his/her part. The student will be expected to pay for the required medical exam and all necessary books and training materials. Individual membership to EAA and Loren Hodge EAA Chapter 274 is required. Membership to the local chapter is $25.00, and EAA membership is $40.00. EAA Student Membership is available FREE of charge to any young person age 8-18 who has completed a Young Eagle flight. The EAA Chapter will pay for the remaining costs incidental to the student’s obtaining his/her Private Pilot Certificate. Students who intend to choose some aspect of aviation as their career are urged to apply.

Rules for eligibility are modest but firm. Refer to the Chapter’s literature, Would You Like To Be A Pilot? for the criteria.

A committee, the Train-A-Pilot Committee, composed of the members of the Chapter, will choose up to five candidates from the pool of applicants. The Chapter, then, will select the winner of the scholarship from this group of five at their regular meeting.

Certified Flight Instructors approved by the Decatur Aero Club will do the training. The Train-A-Pilot Committee will monitor the scholar’s progress. The scholar will be expected to maintain timely progress toward achieving the expertise required of a Private Pilot. Flight instructors have complete authority in decisions regarding the progress of instruction (when the student is ready to solo, is ready for cross-country flight, etc.). The Train-A-Pilot Committee, acting as an agent for EAA Chapter 274, will hold sole authority and responsibility for decisions regarding the scholar’s termination or continuation in the program.

Applicants’ parents/guardians will be asked to sign an Approval To Participate statement on the application form, and separate Hold Harmless statement releasing The Loren Hodge EAA Chapter 274 and officers from damages or responsibility for any occurrence associated with the program.

Ground and Flight Training Performance Standards
  1. The candidate must pass the FAA medical examination before beginning his/her training. The candidate shall pay for the cost of the examination.
  2. The Candidate shall complete ground school training by passing the required FAA written test before commencing their first solo cross country flight.*
  3. The Train-A-Pilot Committee will determine which ground school is acceptable.
  4. The candidate will be responsible for the purchase of books and material required for the completion of training.
  5. The Chapter will arrange payment for the airplane flight time and instructor charges.
  6. The candidate will be expected to complete flight training within 120 days of completing the medical examination.*
  7. The candidate must fly under his/her instructor’s guidance on a regular basis and maintain attendance consistent with satisfactory skill level development as determined by the instructor and the Committee.
  8. The Committee will provide funds for the FAA examiner and “check ride” when, in the flight instructor’s judgement in consultation with the Committee, the student has developed the skills required of a private pilot license by the FAA.
  9. The candidate must perform in an acceptable manner as determined by the instructor in consultation with the Train-A-Pilot Committee through all phases of the training.
  10. The Train-A-Pilot Committee has the final authority to dismiss any candidate, at any time, based on their sole discretion in assessing the performance and progress of the candidate.

*The Train-A-Pilot committee may allocate additional time and payment.

Progress Goals

  • Complete first solo flight within 18 flight hours.*
  • Complete first solo cross-country flight within 30 flight hours.*
  • Complete all training within the 40-hour minimum requirement.*

Progress goals are an effective means to keep the training progress to maintain control of costs. If a progress goal is not attained, outside monetary support is encouraged to complete that phase of training. Once the progress goal is satisfactorily met the Chapter will resume fiduciary support. The Train-A-Pilot Committee appointed to administer the Train-A-Pilot Program will consult with the flight instructor as appropriate. The Chairperson of the Train-A-Pilot Committee will report the selectee’s formal ground school performance and ground and flight training progress to the Chapter Board quarterly at the January, April, July and October Board meetings. The performance criteria developed by the Chapter will be used to measure progress towards satisfying the requirements for the FAA Private Pilot Certification. The contracted Train-A-Pilot CFI’s shall submit an invoice for services at the completion of each progress goal. *The Train-A-Pilot committee may allocate additional time and payment.

Candidate Selection

A Train-A-Pilot Committee made up of at least three persons selected from the Chapter membership will review all applications. The applications of the five strongest candidates will be presented to the membership for a vote to determine the finalist. A simple majority of those present and voting will be required to approve the person selected.

Post Completion Support

The Chapter wants those who have completed the program to maintain an active association with the Chapter and its members. In this way, Chapter members can provide support, counsel, and contacts with others in the aviation community.

Rodger Baldwin and his 1940’s era Ercoupe with a happy Young Eagle.

Liz Birch’s first solo and shirt tail souvenir.

Aloft with Chapter 274.