COPA Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship

The COPA Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship Fund promotes Canadian pilot development by providing annual scholarships to student pilots in both ab-initio and advanced flight training programs.

Neil J. Armstrong

Created to honour one of Canada’s foremost aviators, the scholarship has helped many Canadian pilots get their start. The main award is the “ab-initio” award which provides up to $10,000 to defray eligible training costs associated with the Private Pilot License (PPL).

The second award, the Advanced Training Award, is intended for applicants who already hold a PPL and are seeking higher licenses or ratings. Both scholarship awards can be applied to with the application form below. Since the Scholarship started in 1996, 57 students have received over $196,000 in scholarship funding.

“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 makes all the difference in me obtaining my private, and eventually commercial pilot’s licences.” – Erik Yaremkewich, Squamish, BC 2018 Winner.

“Thank you so very much for the honor of second runner up $2000 scholarship for flight training. It is so exciting to find out that my hard work and my lifestyle choices have paid off. I find it to be a huge honor to have been chosen amongst such a strong field of applications. These funds will definitely be put to good use in my flight training. Thank you again for both the scholarship and your assistance. You guys rock!” – Natalie Cloutier, Lac La Biche, AB 2006 Second Runner Winner

To apply for the COPA Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship, complete and submit form with supporting documentation:

For more information, contact reception@copanational.org or Tel.: 613-236-4901, ext. 100.

Deadline for applications to be received by COPA is March 1.

The winners are typically notified on or about May 1.  Applications can be mailed to:

Canadian Owners and Pilots Association
Attn: COPA Neil J. Armstrong Selection Committee
75 Albert Street Suite 903
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5E7

Click to download the scholarship guidelines and fund governance as a PDF

Qualified applicants shall be Canadian citizens or landed immigrants not less than 15 years of age and not more than 21 years of age as of the application deadline. They will be assessed on the following basis:

  • A demonstrated interest in aviation as a career or a strong interest in general aviation in Canada;
  • A proven self-starter, willing to earn their way;
  • Reasonable academic skills as demonstrated by scholastic record;
  • Participation and demonstrated contributions to their community, school, and leadership attributes;
  • Financial need

Applicants for the Ab-Initio Award must not, at the time of application, been granted any pilot privileges including: Private Pilots 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 committee may consider candidates with more than 10 hours in certain circumstances, particularly where the training has occurred over an extended period.

Ab-initio candidates may receive other flight training awards and scholarships. Candidates who have been awarded the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Power Scholarship or any other program which results in a Private Pilot License are not eligible for COPA’s ab-initio award.

Applicants for the Advanced Training Award must be COPA members in good standing prior to submitting their application.

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.

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 Fund, 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;
  • In the case of the Advanced Awards, flight training and ground school for such training or endorsements.
  • Direct flight training portion of tuition in programs offered by secondary or post secondary school, including colleges and universities.

Costs which are not covered include the following: non-flight training tuition at secondary or post-secondary schools, including colleges and universities, personal meals or transportation to and from the training facility, clothing, aviation equipment or supplies which are not required for the program. COPA will have final authority to define and approve authorized expenditures.

Winning Candidates agree to participate in future COPA promotional activities.

Any funds remaining at the conclusion of training will be reinvested in the Fund for future awards.

Neil J. Armstrong was born at 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 honorably 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 outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation.”

Neil J. Armstrong was killed 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.

COPA NJA AB-INITIO SCHOLARSHIP 2020 ($10,000): Brock Csada, age 20

My interest in aviation began at a young age. I remember my Papa taking me to the air shows in Moose Jaw and finding myself fascinated. I think I was about 5 or 6 when my father bought me a pilot’s jacket, complete with little badges and a fur collar. I was so proud of that jacket and wore it everywhere – one step closer to travelling in the clouds! As I grew older and furthered my education, I realized I not only had a real passion for aviation, but a true knack for math and science.

I believe it takes not only passion to be successful, but imagination, determination and resilience. In grade 12, I applied to the Canadian Armed Forces to become a pilot. Military is my first choice for a career in aviation. I believe the military will provide me with a unique skill set and knowledge base that will open many doors in the future. This is where my determination and resilience are being tested because I have had many hurdles to overcome throughout the application process and will continue to pursue this career path.

I am currently a student at Seneca College as a civilian in the Honors Bachelor of Aviation Technology program. I know there are quicker ways to become a commercial pilot; however, I want a strong education as well. I believe knowledge is power and obtaining a University Degree while earning my credentials as a commercial pilot gives me a strong base to build on. Now that I am here, attending classes, I know that aviation is the ONLY career path for me! If I wasn’t 100% positive before, I certainly am now – after I flew a Cessna 172 for the first time, I knew I was pursuing the career of my dreams!

Prior to coming to Seneca, I enrolled with the Regina Flying Club to obtain my private pilot license, however, I did not complete the ground training prior to leaving for University. I have 6 hours of in-flight training with an instructor. I have also volunteered with the Regina Flying Club, participating in an emergency preparedness exercise at the Regina Airport. I also worked at the Regina Flying Club as a part time Ramp Attendant prior to moving and attending school in Toronto.

I find aviation exhilarating, stimulating, and inspiring. It utilizes my skills, challenges my mind, and enhances my critical thinking. The rush and excitement of taking flight, being in control of the plane, looking down at the world below – full of life and bustle all the while being in an open sky full of possibilities. My dream career path, (if I could choose how this journey plays out), would be to join the military, serving my country while gaining invaluable knowledge, skills and experience. Building on my experience with the military, I would then look to enhance my career by working for NASA or NATO. If the opportunity ever becomes available, I would finish my career with one last experience – travel to Mars.

Not everyone is as fortunate as I have been, to have a family that loves and accepts me no matter what. They have held me up when I fell, cheered me on no matter what I did and helped me to believe in myself. They taught me about hard work and how to become successful. As a Pilot, I hope to show others that no matter what life throws our way, you can achieve anything.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration!

Brock Csada

COPA NJA ADVANCED TRAINING SCHOLARSHIP 2020 ($5,000):  Maxwell Riemers, age 18

“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” ~ often attributed to Mark Twain

It is with humility and excitement that I receive the 2nd place award of the COPA Neil Armstrong Scholarship. When the CoVid-19 lockdown trickles into history, the day will come when the $5,000 funds will serve the purpose of helping my dream come true. I was born to fly the skies, it’s all I dream about.

To date, I have 72.1 PPL hours in total, and 16h38min GPL time. I am presently working on my CPL. Much has changed for us all in this lockdown. The brunt of the worst that can happen is a horrible thought. We are all doing what must be done to mitigate that. For example, I am the Gopher driver for my family and my grandmother. Whatever is needed outside the homes, I prepare necessaries for the trip, and help my mom get it done. Life continues with a new way of going about. The cadet lessons I deliver, and scholastic studies are online. I can’t see my girlfriend in person. In all, it was a small adjustment for me.

I cannot imagine what it’s like for the other pilots in our community that dedicated their careers to flying, or simply just love to fly. I miss the open sky. I miss sitting down planning my flight. I miss talking to other pilots; the ATC people, the ground crews, the staff, the cafeteria people. I miss them all. I miss what I was born to do. I bet they do too.

It was my grandfather, Bill Phipson, a COPA member, who initiated me into flying. At the next lunch crowd get-together, my Grandma Pat will surely tell the pilots and spouse friends that the very first thing I said after that flight was “Nope. No way am I doing that ever again.” But the deed was done. I was bitten by the flying bug. That same year in September, I joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets – my sixth year in, I dare to dream.

Taking that dream to reality, was the excellence of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, especially their 62 Phantom SQD, and their 150 Tiger SQD, and this youth’s organization’s dedication to developing young men and women into upstanding Canadian citizens of talent and ability. I can’t thank them enough for providing me an avenue to help make my dreams come true. I can’t thank COPA enough for alleviating the monetary cost of that dream beyond PPL. I thank all the instructors, the Brantford Flight Centre, Near North, all the people who love aviation and all the people who encouraged me to go for it.

Most of all, thanks Grandpa. I wish you were here.

Yours Truly,

Maxwell Riemers

  • The Neil Armstrong Scholarship Fund was first established in April 1995 through contributions from friends of Neil Armstrong, COPA members and the Canadian aviation community.
  • Contributions are made to the COPA Flight Safety Foundation, Neil Armstrong Fund from which a charitable tax receipt can be issued.
  • The purpose of the fund 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 capital assets of the Fund are invested to provide income sufficient for the annual scholarships, therefore contributions are acknowledged and retained on that basis. Fund earnings over and above that required to pay for the annual scholarships may be used to cover presentation plaques or gifts, to sponsor attendance at the awards presentation by winners and a representative of the Armstrong family, to increase the capital of the fund or to increase the number or amount of the awards.
  • The Fund assets and investments shall be administered by COPA and will be used solely for the  purposes described in these administrative guidelines.
  • There will be a Selection Committee of not less than five (5) people, which shall include two (2) representatives of the Armstrong family so long as they shall be available, a Chair of the Selection Committee and the Eastern and Western Vice Chairs of the COPA Board of Directors.
  • In the event a member of the Armstrong family also acts as Chair, a member “at large” will be nominated to ensure an odd (5 member) number of members eligible to vote.
  • The Selection Committee will have full and final authority to select the winning candidate and to instruct COPA to disburse funds in accordance with these guidelines.
  • The principle award each year, provided suitable candidates are presented, shall be the Ab-Initio Award which shall provide $10,000 toward defraying the training costs associated with the Private Pilot License.
  • The Advanced Training Award of $5,000 is available for those pursuing a higher license or rating.
  • The Scholarship amount is the maximum that will be paid by COPA from the fund for the permit, licence or endorsement(s) being sought and may not be used for any purposes other than those approved in Section 11 of these Guidelines.  Unused amounts at the completion of training, if any, will remain in the Fund 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.