The winners of this year’s Neil J. Armstrong COPA Scholarships have been announced. Erik Yaremkewich, 18, of Squamish, B.C, won a $10,000 ab-initio award while Cody Lincoln, 18, of Seven Sisters, Manitoba earned a $3,000 scholarship to continue his training. Erik Urquhart, of Vernon, B.C. will receive $2,000.
When Yaremkewich was a small child his grandfather would bring him to the local airport to watch the planes takeoff and land and ever since he can remember, he has always wanted to fly. Erik spent nearly all of his spare time at the local airport or at air cadet activities learning as much as he could about aviation.
He joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadet program when he was 12 and now holds the rank of Warrant Officer 2nd Class and is the highest-ranking cadet in his area.
This past year his Air Cadet squadron did not have a ground school instructor. Yaremkewich arranged for eligible cadets in the squadron to attend ground school at a local flight school free of charge to help prepare them for the cadet flying scholarship competition.
He regularly volunteers at the flight school and local flying club, cleaning and fueling planes, and maneuvering planes on the ground but he couldn’t afford flight training. “I have a part time job to help contribute to my own expenses, but flight training has been out of reach for me. This scholarship would make all the difference in me obtaining my private, and eventually commercial pilot’s licences.”
After graduation from Howe Sound Secondary School this June, his plan is to enrol in the Airline and Flight Operations Commercial Pilot Program at BCIT.
At 12 years old, Lincoln attended the Young Eagles Air Academy in Oshkosh. Cody flew there alone and the Delta Airlines pilot took him into the cockpit before takeoff and he’s been hooked ever since.
Given the financial challenges he faced, Lincoln joined the air cadet program to pursue his goal of becoming a pilot. In 2016 he became a licensed Glider Pilot. The following year, he was the only rural Manitoba air cadet to be selected to attend Power Pilot Camp, out of a total of 16 cadets selected in 2017.
Even though he lived almost two hours away, he volunteered almost every weekend at the Gimli Flight Center, sharing his love for gliding with younger cadets. He currently drives an hour each way to teach ground school to younger cadets at his squadron. “I intend to continue to give back to aviation, particularly by teaching youth.”
Having medaled in an effective speaking program, Lincoln has made speeches at Remembrance Day services, veterans’ dinners and other cadet and aviation-related engagements.
Lincoln graduated a year early from high school and attends the University of Manitoba. Cody is also a member of the UMSAE Aero Design Team and was one of two first-year students selected to go to the competition.
“Winning this scholarship would greatly alleviate some pressure to balance my schooling, volunteering and my need to continue logging and learning, following my passion for flying!” he wrote in his application
At the age of 12, Urquhart was given a familiarization flight as a gift by his family. “After that first flight, I could not stop smiling, I knew I’d found my passion and my future career.”
He discovered he could get a student pilot permit and solo at the age of 14 which he did in 2016 under instructors Rhys Perraton and Kathleen Poynton.
“I have continued my training and recently achieved this goal and received my Recreational Pilot Permit on November 15, 2017, my 16th birthday. I currently have 69.8 hours total time.”
He plans to attain his float rating this spring, the one rating that is allowed to be added to a Recreational Permit, and he’ll continue working toward his private licence. “My next goal is to complete the private on my 17th birthday in November. I have completed my Private Pilot written and only the flying remains to reach this goal.”
Urquhart wants to become a bush pilot while he builds hours and experience. “I want to be challenged and to experience various aircraft in broad conditions. I feel this will provide me a great foundation to become a captain for a major airline, which is my ultimate goal. My heart will always stay with general aviation, and I hope I can own, maybe even build, my own STOL aircraft and explore Canada and all of the small strips I research online on my days off!”