About the scholarship

The COPA Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship promotes Canadian pilot development by providing annual scholarships to a student pilot in an ab-initio flight training program. Created to honour one of Canada’s foremost aviators, the scholarship has helped many Canadian pilots get their wings.

COPA’s Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship provides up to $14,000 toward eligible training costs associated with obtaining a Private Pilot License (PPL).

Apply for the scholarship

See below for eligibility criteria. Applications for the 2024 COPA Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship must be submitted by March 14, 2024.


Make a donation

Interested in contributing to the future of General Aviation? Since the scholarship was first introduced, close to 60 selected candidates have received flight training funding through the generous contributions from friends and family of Neil J. Armstrong, COPA members, and the Canadian General Aviation community. To make a donation and to support a new generation of deserving flyers, please visit the following link:


  • Eligibility Criteria

  • Neil Armstrong Biography

  • Past Recipients

  • Application Questions

  • Additional Details

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicants must be between the ages of 16 and 21 as of the application deadline.
  • Applicants must be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
  • Applicants for the Ab-Initio Scholarship must not: at the time of application, been granted any pilot privileges including: Private Pilot’s License, Recreational Pilot License, Ultra Light Pilot Permit or Soaring / Glider License. (Applicants may be the holder of a student pilot permit), and have not completed more than 10 hours of flight training.
  • The review committee may consider candidates with more than 10 hours in certain circumstances, particularly where the training has occurred over an extended period.

Ineligible Applicants

  • Individuals who have been granted any pilot privileges, including, without limitation, a Private Pilots License, Recreational Pilot License, Ultra Light Pilot Permit or a Soaring/Glider License. (Applicants may however be the holder of a student pilot permit).
  • Applicants may receive other scholarships and bursaries to assist with their flight training, however applicants who have been awarded the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Power Flying Scholarship, or any other programs that result in a Private Pilot License will not be eligible for the COPA Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship.
  • To ensure that as many aviators can benefit, successful applicants from previous years of this scholarship are not eligible to re-apply.

The winning candidate(s) may select the facility at which the flight training is to be taken, subject to the approval of COPA. The training facility shall be a licensed Flying School or educational institute in Canada with facilities satisfactory to COPA and shall agree to the conditions of the scholarship. COPA will pay the Flight Training Unit directly and may disburse funds to cover instructional materials and other course costs at the beginning of training. Candidates must be members of COPA in good standing for the entirety of the training period.

Winning candidates agree to participate in future COPA promotional activities.

Training shall be completed in a reasonable period of time, usually not longer than one year from commencement. In the event the recipient does not make satisfactory progress or does not conduct himself/herself in a manner consistent with the intention of the award, COPA shall have the right to revoke the award and to cease paying any further costs of training. Progress reports from the training facility will be provided to COPA as required.

Eligible costs of training include the following:

  • costs of ground school, including books and required materials for the courses;
  • costs of instructor time and training aircraft;
  • the direct flight training portion of tuition in programs offered by secondary or post-secondary schools, including colleges and universities.

Costs that are not covered include the following:

  • Non flight training tuition costs at secondary or post-secondary schools, including colleges and universities. Those seeking assistance with such costs should apply to the Scholarship and bursary programs usually available through those institutions. (E.g., Scholarships cannot be used to pay any part of the tuition of a college or university program where flight training costs are subsidized).
  • Personal meals or transportation to and from the training facility.
  • Clothing.
  • Aviation equipment or supplies which are not required for the program (ex: headsets, flight bags, e-tablets, etc).

Any funds remaining at the conclusion of training will be reinvested in COPA’s Flight Safety Foundation for future scholarship awards.

Neil J. Armstrong was born in Alvinston, Ontario, on April 15, 1920. He received his education there and at Petrolia, Ontario, where he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He served in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba before transferring to the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943.

He graduated from pilot training as a commissioned officer and was assigned to serve as a flying instructor until he was honourably discharged in 1945.

In 1946, he studied at the University of Toronto and in 1949 he graduated as an Engineer with a major in Geology and Geophysics.

From 1953 to 1969 he was associated with Spartan Air Services in Ottawa and became the first known helicopter pilot geologist. He worked with the Geological Survey of Canada on Operations Baker and Thelon in the Barren Lands to help map a 100,000 square mile area.

In 1961, he flew the Atlantic Ocean nonstop with his friend Max Conrad in a Piper Apache from Newfoundland to Ireland in 13 hours.

Two years later, he shared pilot/navigator duties with Roy Moore, flying a Piper Aztec non-stop across the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii in 18 hours total.

In 1964, he was elected president of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, a position he held for three years. His continued interest in COPA was a stabilizing factor in the continued success of the organization. Armstrong wrote a regular column about his travels in COPA’s Canadian Flight magazine from 1972 to 1995.

He was named to Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973 with the following citation:

“His combination of piloting ability, technical knowledge, navigational skills and dedication to purpose, despite adversity, have resulted in an outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation.”

Neil J. Armstrong was killed on November 23, 1994, when the Twin Otter in which he was a passenger crashed into an Antarctic iceberg. His son, Corcoran, also died in the crash.

Recipients from the most recent scholarship periods will be listed below.


  • David He, Burnaby, B.C., COPA Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship



  • Emilie Perron, North Bay, Ontario, COPA Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship
  • Mark Pua, Greater Vancouver Region, B.C., COPA Neil J. Armstrong Advanced Scholarship


  • Brock Csada, Regina, Saskatchewan, COPA Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship
  • Maxwell Riemers, Stoney Creek, Ontario, COPA Neil J. Armstrong Advanced Scholarship


  • David Wentland, Bowmanville, Ontario, COPA Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship
  • Larissa Chiu, Vancouver, B.C., COPA Neil J. Armstrong Advanced Scholarship


  • Erik Yaremkewich, Squamish, B.C., COPA Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship
  • Cody Lincoln, Seven Sisters, Manitoba, COPA Neil J. Armstrong Advanced Scholarship
  • Erik Urquhart, Vernon, B.C., COPA Neil J. Armstrong Advanced Scholarship

The application form will ask the following questions:  

Applicant Information:  

  • This section will request information on your name, phone number, email address, age, address, and other basic information. 
  • If selected as a successful applicant, do you agree to provide a photo of yourself, a biography and proof of enrollment in a flight school in order to claim your award? Please note, funds will not be released until these documents are provided. 

Aviation/Academic Background 

  • Please list all (if any) scholarships you have been awarded to support your flight training.
  • Tell us how many (if any) formal flight training hours you have.
  • Describe your aviation training to date (if any, including permits or licenses attained), your interest and experience in aviation and any future plans you may have within the sector below. 
  • How will this scholarship benefit you in achieving your flying goals and/or helping you to meet any financial needs you may have?
  • Tell us about your highest education level/scholastic achievement. We encourage you to include any accomplishments to help the selection committee gain an understanding of your drive, ambition, and/or commitment efforts for flight training. These can also include personal achievements outside of school.
  • We will ask you to attach a copy of your final report/grade points and any other relevant information about your scholastic record. This should be official documentation provided by your high school and/or post-secondary institution.
  • Please provide a personal summary (minimum 500 words) of any personal attributes and aspirations which make you a competent pilot, an asset to aviation and a worthy recipient of the COPA Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship.

Letters of Recommendation 

Please provide two letters of recommendation from two adult non-relatives in support of your application. Letters should reference your aviation or community work to date. The full name, address and telephone number of each reference are required.  

About the COPA Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship

  • The Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship was first established in April 1995 through contributions from family and friends of Neil J. Armstrong, COPA members and the Canadian aviation community.
  • The purpose of the Scholarship is twofold – to honour one of Canada’s foremost aviation members and to provide flight training to worthy young people who might not otherwise be able to pursue their love of flight and who exemplify the fine character, optimism and love of adventure which were epitomized by Neil J. Armstrong.
  • The principle award each year, provided suitable candidates are presented, shall be the COPA Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship which shall provide $14,000 toward defraying the training costs associated with the Private Pilot License.
  • The Scholarship amount is the maximum that will be paid by COPA for the licences, endorsement(s) or rating(s) being sought and may not be used for any purposes other than those approved in Section 11 of the Guidelines.  Unused amounts at the completion of training, if any, will remain in the Flight Safety Foundation for future awards.
  • COPA may exercise judgment as to whether training can be deferred for a reasonable period and which courses are eligible for payment under these guidelines.

Selection Committee

  • The Selection Committee will have full and final authority to select the winning candidates and to instruct COPA to disburse funds in accordance with the guidelines.

Contributing towards COPA’s scholarships

  • Contributions for COPA’s scholarships are made to the COPA Flight Safety Foundation. The Foundation is a registered charity and tax receipts are issued for all donations over $10.