South Dakota Pilots Association


What kind of aviation scholarships occur in South Dakota? It took some digging, but here is what was found. If an aviation scholarship was missed, please let us know and we will alert our members about it (

General aviation in South Dakota needs more scholarships to assistance young people in getting started in aviation careers. Endowing a scholarship in an aviation program with a gift of $10,000 can result in an annual $500 scholarship (5% payout). Likewise, a gift of property that can be sold and turned into an endowment fund for a scholarship. Purchasing a small insurance policy and making the beneficiary an endowment fund at a school, college, or university with an aviation program would also benefit young people. Scholarships are a great way to encourage general aviation careers among young people. Think about it. Wouldn’t establishing an endowed scholarship be a great way to remember a special person in your life – even yourself. An example is the Greg Voight Scholarship, which was a one-time $500 scholarship for a student in the Aviation Maintenance Technology program at Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, during the 2003-2004 school year, that was given in the name of a Watertown aviation mechanic.

The Becker-Hansen Memorial Scholarship

The Becker-Hansen Memorial Scholarship was established in January 1998 by the South Dakota Pilots Association to honor the memory and spirit of state pilots Ron Becker (left) and Dave Hansen (right), who lost their lives in the crash of the state's MU-2 aircraft, which killed Governor George Mickelson and five others. The Scholarship originally awarded $500 annually to a South Dakota pilot or student pilot to complete their training or a rating. The purpose of the scholarship is to encourage more pilot starts and advanced ratings in South Dakota. The award was increased to $800 beginning in 2005, increased to $1,000 in 2009, increased to $1,250 in 2011, increased to $1,500 in 2015, increased to $2,000 in 2017, and increased to $2,500 in 2022.

The criteria for the award and the nomination form are located below. Nomination forms are due to the SDPA no later than mid-August. Judging of the nominations by the SDPA officers will occur in September, and the award winner announced in the November issue of SDPA News.

Criteria for the Becker-Hansen Memorial Scholarship Award

Becker-Hansen Scholarship Nomination Form Becker-Hansen Scholarship Nomination Form

  1. The candidate must be at least 16 years old and sponsored by a member of the SDPA.
  2. The sponsor must write a letter of recommendation, and highlight any characteristics or accomplishments of the candidate as they apply to aviation, and clubs or organizations they are a member of such as local, state, regional, national, or international aviation groups. The letter should also indicate the candidate’s financial need for the scholarship. Submit the letter by August 10 to the SDPA .
  3. The sponsor shall complete the "Becker-Hansen Memorial Scholarship Nomination" form, sign it, and submit it to the SDPA by August 10th.
  4. The candidate must write a letter stating why they are deserving of the scholarship, their involvement in aviation activities and aviation interests, and their future plans, sign the letter, and submits the letter to the by August 10th.
  5. The funds are to be used exclusively for obtaining a pilot's certificate or to upgrade a current certificate (add a rating).
  6. The selectee must pass a Third Class Medical Examination, or higher class, conducted by an Aviation Medical Examiner, at the selectee’s expense, before receiving scholarship funds.
  7. The scholarship funds must be expended within 12 months of the time of the award.
  8. A SD-based instructor must conduct the training.
  9. Cost of instruction should be billed directly to the SDPA Treasurer as the training progresses and will be paid up to a total of $2,300. The final $200 will be paid after the scholarship winner provides a 1-page typed summary/story about their training experience (total $2,500) (see criteria #10).
  10. The Scholarship winner shall report in a 1-page typed summary/story to the SDPA about their training experience within 1 year after receiving the award. The story will published in the SDPA News.


“Reapply” Policy: The SDPA will consider an application from anyone who has previously received the Becker-Hansen Memorial Scholarship after a delay of 3 years, but will give the candidate a lower-priority for receiving a second scholarship than other candidates. **Policy adopted by vote at the SDPA meeting in Mitchell on July 27, 2008.

“Training Activity” Policy: If the scholarship winner does not undertake flight training in a timely manner, i.e., within 6 months of the date of the scholarship award letter, they will be notified of the lost of the scholarship, and an alternate scholarship award winner will be notified of their selection for the scholarship. An alternate scholarship winner will be selected based on ranking second in the selection process.  The same “Training Activity” policy applies to the alternate award winner. In the event that neither applicant uses any funds within 6 months of award, then the funds will stay in the SDPA treasury for future use. **Policy adopted by vote at the SDPA meeting in Philip on November 10, 2012.

“Preference” Policy: Lack of previous experience shall not be an emphasis factor when ranking applicants for the scholarship award when evaluating candidates seeking a pilot certificate and those seeking advanced ratings, such as instrument, commercial, CFI, etc. **Policy adopted by vote at the SDPA meeting in Philip on November 10, 2012.

Scholarship Winners:

  • 2023 Someone in South Dakota
  • 2022 Drew Kroeplin (Highmore, $2,500)
  • 2021 Phoebe Ann Kellar (Rapid City, $2,000)
  • 2020 Matthew LaFave (Mission Hill, $2,000)
  • 2019 Matthew Schad (Rapid City, $2,000)
  • 2018 Caden Haiar (Alexandria, $2,000)
  • 2017 William Seykora (Sioux Falls, $2,000)
  • 2016 Lydia Anderson (Sioux Falls, $1,500)
  • 2015 Kelley Jorgensen (Burbank, $1,500)
  • 2014 Elizabeth Hubbard (Spearfish, $1,250)
  • 2013 Brandon West (Brandon, $1,250)
  • 2012 Nathan Keith (Hermosa, $1,250)
  • 2011 Brad Woerner (Yankton, $1,250)
  • 2010 Rachel Odens (Vermillion, $1,000)
  • 2009 Justin Bierwirth (Custer, $1,000)
  • 2008 Dan Berryhill (Spearfish, $800)
  • 2007 Timothy Hyke (Huron, $800)
  • 2006 Scott Schramm (Brookings, $800)
  • 2005 Kevin Hamann (Sioux Falls, $800)
  • 2004 Bob Arneson (Rapid City, $500)
  • 2003 Tyler Johnson (Brandon, $500)
  • 2002 Jody Weiderback (Watertown, $500)
  • 2001 Joshua Grundt (Rapid City, $500)
  • 2000 Misti Ausland (Florence, $500)
  • 1999 Denise Vig (Faith, $500)
  • 1998 Al Rohrbach (Pierre, $500)

SDPA Aviation Maintenance Technology Scholarship

The South Dakota Pilots Association created the SDPA Aviation Maintenance Technology Scholarship in September 2005 to acknowledge the importance of aviation maintenance technicians to aviation in South Dakota. The scholarship is to assist and recognize students enrolled in the Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program at Lake Area Technical College, Watertown, SD. Each year SDPA will award a scholarship to a second-year student in the AMT Program through the Lake Area Technical Foundation. The original scholarship was for $500, and was increased to $750 in 2011, increased to $1,000 in 2014, increased to $1,500 in 2016, increased to $2,000 in 2017, and increased to $2,500 in 2022.

Footnote: Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) was renamed Lake Area Technical College (LATC) in 2020.

Criteria for the SDPA Aviation Maintenance Technology Scholarship Award

  1. The candidate must be a second-year student enrolled in the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program at the Lake Area Technical College (LATC) and have maintained the satisfactory progress requirements as stated in the LATC student handbook.
  2. The candidate must complete the scholarship form and attach a letter stating their interest in aviation maintenance and their future plans in aviation maintenance. The letter should list outstanding personal qualities that make him/her a deserving candidate for the scholarship such as highlighting any characteristics or accomplishments of the candidate as they apply to aviation or to clubs or organizations they are a member of such as SDPA, AOPA, EAA, Civil Air Patrol, local, state, regional, national, or international aviation groups, etc.
  3. Winner selection and administration of scholarship funds will be accomplished by the Lake Area Technical Institute Foundation and Aviation Maintenance Technology department supervisor/instructors.
  4. Scholarship applications will be made available in mid October to the AMT department supervisor and applications will be given to each second-year student. Deadline for application: Completed applications are due at the LATC Foundation Office by the end of November.
  5. The scholarship award will be applied to the recipient’s second semester tuition and fees.
  6. The SDPA will publish the Scholarship winner’s letter accompanying their application in the SDPA News. The applicant’s letter will state their interest in aviation maintenance and their future plans in aviation maintenance, along with a list of outstanding personal qualities that make them a deserving candidate for the scholarship

Scholarship Winners:

  • 2023 2nd year student in Aviation Maintenance Technology Program
  • 2022 Minsoo Kim (Watertown, $2,500)
  • 2021 no student applied for scholarship according to the LATC Foundation
  • 2020 Ian Radach (Watertown, $2,000)
  • 2019 Kaegen Fitch (Milesville, $2,000)
  • 2018 Trevor Parmely (Miller, $2,000)
  • 2017 Tucker Ulmer (Sioux Falls, $2,000)
  • 2016 Joshua Heim (Hartford, $1,500)
  • 2015 Alan Nelsen (Watertown, $1,000)
  • 2014 Joe Wiskur (Brookings, $1,000)
  • 2013 Justin Mennenger (Onida, $750)
  • 2012 Derek Steward (Chelsea, $750)
  • 2011 Jordan Rasmussen (Estelline, $750)
  • 2010 David Barber (Watertown, $500)
  • 2009 Tessa Clark (Watertown, $500)
  • 2008 Wade Konechne (Watertown, $500)
  • 2007 Diane Rehfeld (White, $500)
  • 2006 Andy Griese (Hoven, $500)

ACE Camp Scholarships:

The Aerospace Career and Education (ACE) Camp held annually in July at South Dakota State University (Brookings) receives scholarships from several organizations including the following:
ACE Camp at SDSU was discontinued in 2023.

  • Yankton Regional Aviation Association provided 50% scholarships (1993-2019);
  • SDPA provided 50% scholarships (1995-2019);
  • South Dakota Aviation Association provides one 100% scholarship (1996-2004; sometimes every other year);
  • Women Work! (WEEA; the National Network for Women’s Employment) provides 100% scholarships for females (variable 3 to 6);
  • Brookings Chamber of Commerce: The School to Work Program and the Career Learning Center provides 100% scholarships for disadvantaged youth (variable each year, usually 10 to 12).

EAA Air Academy Camp Scholarship:

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) holds several Air Academy Camps during the summer at Oshkosh, WI. Camps are for specific age groups: Twelve- to 13-year-olds are introduced to flight in the Young Eagles Camp through small group activities taught by expert camp counselors. The Basic Air Academy takes things to the next level, incorporating more hands-on projects and demonstrations for kids ages 14-15. Introductory recreation flight experiences highlight the action-packed Advanced Air Academy camp for 16- to 18-year-olds and gives students full access to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh action throughout the week. Advanced Air Academy / SportAir, is for kids ages 16-19, and places a strong emphasis on aircraft construction, primarily composite and fabric techniques. All program costs include instruction, materials, meals, and lodging at the EAA Air Academy Lodge. Interested youth can also apply for scholarships to help fund this exciting learning experience. Scholarships are provided by Sioux Falls EAA Chapter 289 for students in the Sioux Falls area, and by the Yankton EAA Chapter 1029 in the Yankton regional area.

Linda Hall-Daschle Scholarship for Aviation Excellence:

This $1,000 Scholarship is awarded annually to a South Dakota State University (Brookings) sophomore Aviation Education student who has received a private pilot certificate through the SDSU Aviation Education program within the last year. The recipient must be a returning student to the Aviation Education Program who has demonstrated outstanding academic and flight training performance. The scholarship was established in 2005.

For more information contact the SDSU Foundation.

Harley F. and Adele M. Taylor Scholarship in Aviation Education:

The recipient of the Harley F. and Adele M. Taylor Scholarship in Aviation Education shall be a full-time sophomore, junior or senior student who is majoring in one of the three specializations within the Aviation Program in the College of Education and Human Sciences at SDSU, with at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average. The recipient must demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and flight training performance and show promise to make a significant contribution to the aviation industry. Awards shall be for $1,000. The scholarship was established in 2006. The recipient shall be selected by the Aviation Education Program Scholarship Committee.

For more information contact the SDSU Foundation.

Jeffery Boulware Memorial Scholarship:

The Jeffrey Boulware Endowed Memorial Scholarship in Aviation was established in 2016 by Holly (Haug) Boulware, wife, and sons, Erik Boulware and Thomas Boulware, with the help of extended family, friends and colleagues, especially the support of the Aviation Industry Advisory Board Scholarships. The scholarship will provide opportunities to students that embody Jeffrey’s spirit and share his passion for aviation. The recipient shall be a sophomore, junior or senior majoring in aviation. Preference shall be given to students with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. The student may be renewed, if they continue to meet the scholarship criteria.

For more information contact the SDSU Foundation.

Aviation Class Scholarship

This scholarship is given by the Lake Area Technical Institute Foundation (LATF, Watertown), and is used for students at Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) in the Aviation Maintenance Technology program. (Currently no scholarships are awarded from this fund while the account builds. To make a donation to this fund or any other fund at the LATF, contact them at 605-882-5284, ext. 268).

Merit Scholarship

This scholarship from the LATF goes to any student at Lake Area Technical Institute, including the Aviation Maintenance Technology program, for graduating from high school with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and various ranges of ACT scores (ACT 23-24: $250; ACT 25-27 $500; ACT 28+ $1000).

Achievement Scholarship

This $500 scholarship from the LATF goes to one second-year student in each of 21 programs at LATI, including the Aviation Maintenance Technology program.

SD Ag in the Classroom:

The South Dakota Aviation Association gives a $250 Scholarship to South Dakota Ag in the Classroom (Pierre), typically alternating with the scholarship they give to the ACE Camp.

For more about South Dakota Ag in the Classroom.

NOTE from Andrea Barber, Executive Director, SDAA: The South Dakota Ag in the Classroom host seminars for teachers, developed a website to use in classrooms, created an interactive CDrom called What's Growing in South Dakota, and host interactive exhibits and activities at places like the Sioux Empire Fair and the South Dakota State Fair. When the SDAA hosts our fall Fly-In, we invite the 5th and 6th graders in the nearest school to come to the airport -- this year (2004) in Winner the kids got to check out different kinds of planes and go out to the flight line while the planes sprayed the dye for the pattern testing. During this time Lisa Dorschner, Executive Director of SD Ag in the Classroom, talked to the teachers and gave them teaching materials. The kids all got aviation brochures from SDAA that day -- I'm not sure if we are the main aviation source for them -- I would assume the Fly-In is probably the most interactive aviation part of what they would be around.

South Dakota Aviation Association & DJ Fischer Foundation Scholarship:

The SDAA scholarship was established in 2018 to assist young people in South Dakota pursuing higher education by awarding one or multiple scholarships up to the amount of $3,000 annually, if the criteria are met by one or more applicants. The SDAA Board of Directors will select the winner(s). The DJ Fischer Scholarship will award an additional scholarship up to $1,000 to one or more Applicants meeting the criteria.  The DJ Fischer Foundation Board Members will select the winner(s). All Applicants must be sponsored by a SDAA Member. The award can be used for continued education at a college, university, technical school or approved flight training program for a future career that is related to or will benefit the Aerial Application Industry.

Please direct any questions to the SDAA Executive Director at

Curl Memorial Fund Aviation Scholarship:

(Limited to EAA Chapter 289 members)
The Curl Aviation Scholarship was established in 2010 and was initiated to honor David Curl of Sioux Falls, who was an active member of EAA Chapter 289. David passed away in July 13, 2010. The purpose of this fund administered by the EAA Chapter 289 is to spur and support interest of individuals pursuing a career in aviation.

The scholarship will be awarded to actively participating members of EAA 289 who have been active in the chapter for at least one year. The scholarship funds will be used for costs related to obtaining a Sport or Private Pilots Certificate. Persons interested in the Scholarship must submit a completed application documenting how the funds will be used and outlining what the individual’s financial need for this scholarship. The scholarship will pay twenty five percent (25%) of documented costs up to one thousand dollars ($1000) per year for each individual. The successful scholarship candidate must submit paid receipts the Chapter 289 Treasurer to receive reimbursement.

For an application contact:
Ron Keenihan at

Or request scholarship information at:
EAA Chapter 289

EAA Chapter 806 Flying Scholarship:

The Spearfish EAA Chapter 806 established a Flying Scholarship in about 1990 that is available to students in Belle Fourche, Spearfish, Lead, and Deadwood.

Spearfish EAA Chapter 806 inactive as of 2016.

YRAA Pilot Training Scholarship:

The Yankton Regional Aviation Association and Yankton EAA Chapter 1029 established the YRAA Pilot Training Scholarship in June 2005, and the scholarship is available to students in southeastern South Dakota and northwestern Nebraska. Pilot training must be accomplished at a Yankton Regional Area airport: Bloomfield, Creighton, Hartington, Parkston, Springfield, Vermillion, Wayne, or Yankton. Applications and criteria can be obtained from Steve Hamilton, Phone 605-665-8448, Email:

Aviation Education Scholarships & Grants:

Additional aviation education grants can be found at the FAA’s Aviation and Space Education Outreach Program web site at

Vern (Luverne) Kraemer Aviation Maintenance Scholarship:

The Vern (Luverne) Kraemer Aviation Maintenance Scholarship is a fully endowed scholarship at the $1,000 level that is awarded to a second year student at Lake Area Technical College in the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program. It is given in honor of Vern Kraemer, a South Dakota airplane mechanic and pilot that loved aviation above all other things. He built the first licensed experimental airplane in South Dakota in 1952. The plane now hangs in the Rapid City Regional Airport Terminal. He built four experimental planes during his long career, had his own Fixed Base Operation at Rapid City Regional, taught many people to fly and maintain airplanes, and mentored countless other homebuilders of aircraft. He received numerous accolades during his 70+ years in aviation including the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award, Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, FAA Aviation Mechanic Safety Award - 1963, Great Lakes Region Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year -1985, International Forest of Friendship Honoree in Atchison, KS, 1994, South Dakota Aviation Fame 1994, and the 2001 EAA Major Achievement Award. In 2014, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his service in Civil Air Patrol during WWII. (Updated Feb 2015 by Norma Kraemer, Nemo)

Scholarship Winners:

  • 2022 Luke Murray (Gregory, SD)
  • 2021 No one selected
  • 2020 Trey Jensen (Langford, SD)
  • 2019 Ryan Nelson (Canby, MN)
  • 2018 Daniel Simmons (Sioux Falls)
  • 2017 Douglas Potts (Baudette, MN)
  • 2016 Martina Kittelson-Caviness (St. Lawrence, SD)
  • 2015 John Chisham (Watertown)
  • 2014 Corby Renfrew (Minneapolis, MN)
  • 2013 Kai S. Smith (Ft. Pierre)

Steven J. & Pamela J. Hamilton Scholarship

The Steven J. & Pamela J. Hamilton Scholarship was established in 2021 and is a fully endowed scholarship at the $1,000 level. The scholarship is awarded to a second-year student at Lake Area Technical College in the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program with preference to veterans or currently enlisted in military service. The scholarship is given as a "thank you" to all the aviation maintenance technicians and IAs (A&P with Inspection Authorization) that maintained and annually inspected N1743V (1974 Cessna 172M) over the 29 years that Steve & Pam flew it. Steve is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force (1966 – 1970) and served as an aircraft mechanic stationed 18 months at Clark AB, Philippines, and 2 years at Travis AFB, CA. Steve earned his private pilot certificate in 1991 – trained at Yankton, SD. First lesson: September 18, 1990; first solo: November 9, 1990; checkride: March 4, 1991. Steve & Pam bought "4-3-Victor," nicknamed "Mr. Skyhawk," that he trained in on December 19, 1994, and flew it 2,786.6 hours including two flights to Alaska (1999: 57 hours, and 2005: 67 hours), five flights to Tampa, FL, to visit our daughter Heather (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002) and numerous flights to Mississippi and Missouri to visit relatives. Steve flew to the "Oshkosh / AirVenture" convention nine times: 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004. Pam (call sign "Whamo") accompanied Steve on hundreds of flights including Alaska in 1999, six flights to "Oshkosh / AirVenture," and five flights to Tampa. She has 1,224.2 hours of passenger flight time. They sold Mr. Skyhawk on November 16, 2019. Steve was the second pilot to earn the Gold Level Award in the FLY South Dakota Airports! Passport Program in October 2012 by landing at all 73 public-use airports in South Dakota. Steve was inducted into the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame on September 6, 2014.

Christopher J. Gustad Memorial Scholarship:

The Christopher J. Gustad Memorial Scholarship was established at Lake Area Technical Institute Foundation for students in the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program.  Chris Gustad graduated from Platte High School in 2000 and Lake Area Technical Institute in 2002 with a degree in aviation maintenance. Chris enjoyed being an aircraft mechanic in Sioux Falls and worked for 7 years at Business Aviation / Landmark. On October 29, 2011, Chris married Sara, the love of his life – high school sweetheart, best friend, and soul-mate – at Trinity Lutheran Church in Platte. Chris and Sara decided to move to Chamberlain, and he went to work full-time for Cody Hoffman Farms for awhile. In May 2011 Chris was diagnosed with kidney cancer. After needing weekly treatments, Chris and Sara decided to move back to Sioux Falls. Chris accepted a full-time position with Sanford as an aircraft mechanic in March 2012. He was a natural fit for the Sanford team and even while in hospice offered trouble-shooting advice. Chris, age 30, of Sioux Falls, formerly of Platte, SD, passed away on August 1, 2012. Fund raising efforts in Chris’ memory such as a “Pitch” (card game) Tournament and a Golf Tournament have been held in the past and more are planned in the future. The goal is to fund a $20,000 endowment at LATI, which would result in a $1,000 annual scholarship.

Brian’s Glass & Door Scholarship:

The Brian’s Glass and Door, Inc. Scholarship (Brian & Gerri Ann DeBoer, Watertown, SD) was established several years ago with the Lake Area Technical Institute Foundation for students in the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program. Brian was in the Lake Area Technical Institute – Aviation Maintenance Technology Program during 1970-1971 and graduated with an A&P certificate in 1971. He took flight training from LATI instructor & CFI Pete Tanis at Watertown and earned his private pilot certificate. Pete Tanis went on to found the Tanis Aircraft Products, which is noted for their aircraft preheating systems. Brian said they try to give their annual scholarship to a student in the Aviation Program, but sometime it does not work out.

Boss Hoss, Inc (Monte & Meredith Warne) Scholarship:

The Boss Hoss, Inc Scholarship (Monte & Meredith Warne) was established in 2008 at Lake Area Technical Institute Foundation for students in the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program. Monte Warne graduated from the AMT program in 1975. Boss Hoss Inc ( previously donated a Boss Hoss motorcycle valued at about $40,000 to LATI, which was raffled off to fund the Aviation Maintenance Technology Scholarship.

SDPAMA (SD Professional Aviation Maintenance Association) Scholarship:

The South Dakota Professional Aviation Maintenance Association established a scholarship at Lake Area Technical Institute in about 2012. When the SDPAMA dissolved in about 2015, it gave its remaining treasury to the Lake Area Technical Institute Foundation to fund an annual scholarship.