COPA Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship

For over 25 years, the COPA Neil J, Armstrong Scholarship has helped open doors for the next generation of aviators. The scholarship, created in honour of Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame inductee Neil J. Armstrong, financially supports flight training to aspiring aviators.

Neil J. Armstrong

Helping Young Pilots Get Started
COPA’s Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship promotes Canadian pilot development by providing annual scholarships to ab-initio pilots and advanced flight training to licensed pilots.

  • The Ab-initio Scholarship provides up to $10,000 toward eligible training costs associated with the Private Pilot License (PPL). (Certain conditions apply).  
  • The Advanced Training Scholarship supports young pilots with $5,000 toward a commercial license, endorsements or ratings. (Certain conditions apply). 

Are you or do you know an aviation enthusiast between the ages of 15 and 21 with a love for adventure? Applications for the COPA Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship are being accepted until March 31, 2021. We encourage everyone to visit www.copanational.org/en/scholarship for more information on eligibility criteria. 

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

“Thank you so very much for the honour 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 honour to have been chosen. This scholarship will definitely be put to good use in my flight training. You guys rock!” – Natalie Cloutier, Lac La Biche, AB 2006 Second Runner Winner

*The 2021 COPA Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship cycle is now closed.  Please check again next year closer to the deadline of March 31, 2022

To apply for the COPA Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship, complete and submit form with supporting documentation. Online applications are preferred, however applications can also be mailed to:

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

For more information, contact copa@copanational.org or call us at 613-236-4901, ext. 100.

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

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. For more information on how to make a donation and to support a new generation of deserving flyers, please visit www.copanational.org/en/donating. 

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 joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and graduated from pilot training as a commissioned officer where he was assigned as a flying instructor. After his honorable discharge, he pursued his career as an Engineer in Geology and Geophysics. 

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 as President of COPA, a position he held for three years. Armstrong wrote a regular column about his travels in COPA’s then Canadian Flight magazine. 

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.” 

Visit copanational.org/en/scholarship to learn more about the COPA Neil J. Armstrong scholarship today or to apply. 

COPA NJA AB-INITIO SCHOLARSHIP 2020 ($10,000): Emilie Perron, Age 16 

Ms. Emilie Perron has always been fascinated by the sky. “For as long as I can remember, I have looked up at the sky with immense curiosity. I have always been fascinated by the expanse of the universe and wondered what else the world held”. This curiosity is what inspired Ms. Perron’s interest in aviation, space exploration and astronomy. 

Having met Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen in grade six, Ms. Perron realized that she wanted to “quite literally reach for the stars” and become a pilot and, hopefully someday, an astronaut. 

A “most remarkable flight” happened last September for Ms. Perron, as she had her first flight in a Piper Super Cub and where she was offered control of the aircraft by COPA members. “Even if I don’t yet have any actual flight training, I know that I want a life in aviation. Whether that be as an airline pilot, instructor, test pilot, engineer or even astronaut, I know I want to pursue a career in the aviation world.” 

Perron feels getting her pilot’s license and becoming an astronaut “may be something that seems far-fetched and impossible to reach” but she has learned that what seems impossible can be reached with some hard work and dedication.  

Currently a grade eleven student at Ecole Secondaire Catholique Algonquin, in North Bay, Ontario, Emilie has an impressive academic record, consistently placing at the top of her class, receiving award recognition and delivering a valedictorian speech. Last year, she placed the second-highest average of 98 percent.  

“I have always been someone who, when their mind is set on something, will do whatever it takes to make it happen. I have always loved challenges and don’t believe I should be limited on what I can achieve because of my age or gender”. 

At the age of ten, Ms. Perron moved from Girls’ hockey to Boys’ Hockey and wasn’t fazed by being the only girl. At the age of twelve, she started playing American Football. There were no girls’ teams in North Bay so she joined a community of male players. In her first year of playing, she was awarded the Defensive Back of the Year Award. When Ms. Perron turned 14, she started officiating Minor Hockey and Sledge Hockey in her region. 

Giving back to the community is something that Ms. Perron believes is important. Over the past few years, she has contributed over 480 hours of volunteer work helping out her community. From helping run a dance camp, acting as the assistant coach for two youth football teams for the North Bay Bulldogs, and since October helping run and maintain a Curling Pro Shop. 

Ms. Perron often had to work twice as hard to prove herself and show that she belonged. “In everything I have already done, I have had to become a self-starter and be willing to earn my own way, these qualities I know will be important if I want a career in aviation. I know that getting my pilot’s license will be quite a challenge but this, to me, makes it every bit more incredible and makes me want it even more.” 

“I know that flight training is very expensive and with university coming up in the next year, I am not in a position, financially, to pursue this dream without assistance. This scholarship would help me get a head start on my aviation career and allow me to make a difference in this world.” 

Ms. Perron is hoping to be accepted into the University of Waterloo Aviation program next year when it comes time to start applying to universities. 

“When I do defeat the odds and become a pilot, I wish to share these many lessons and inspire others to do what their hearts desire. I believe that, as Canadians, we need to stand up for each other and support others to give them the courage to fight for what they want.” 

It is the COPA Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship Selection Committee’s pleasure to award Ms. Emilie Perron the COPA Neil J. Armstrong “Ab-initio” scholarship for 2021.

COPA NJA ADVANCED TRAINING SCHOLARSHIP 2020 ($5,000): Mark Daniel Pua, age 19 

Mr. Mark Daniel Pua started studying aviation by reading “From the Ground Up” at fifteen years old. At sixteen, he went through a rigorous selection process for the air cadet scholarships. Mr. Pua was selected for both Glider and Power Scholarships, becoming a glider pilot at seventeen and a private pilot at eighteen. At nineteen he became a commercial pilot, the youngest and first in his class of 2021. “I pursued my dream to be a Flight Instructor as I loved teaching cadets”. 

“I want to be a class 1 Instructor and general aviation volunteer”, explains Mr. Pua. “I find inspiration from my class 1 instructor; he demands more of his students, and training takes longer, but in the end, they become well-regarded as instructors.” 

Mr. Pua appreciates the challenge of aviation. “It gives me fulfillment to get the mission done in the most efficient and safest manner”. He went to a Jazz Aviation Pathways Program partnered school in the Okanagan Region to become a safer, better, and more competent pilot. 

But Mr. Pua is a believer in continuous learning. “Studying on the ground for five years now, I have never stopped as I know that it will continue to mold me and shape me to be a better Pilot in Command”. In his spare time, he learned drone rules and flying, watched and listened to aviation videos and podcasts by Cardinal Aviation Ltd., read books such as “So, you want to be a pilot, eh”, became a freelance tutor to international students in the Lower Mainland, enjoyed mentorship from fellow aviators, volunteered and helped in local flying clubs, and more. 

As immigrants, his parents found that their education was not accepted as professional degrees in Canada, which led the family to go through financial hardship. With five siblings living in a two-bedroom suite, Mr. Pua and his brother took the responsibility to be an inspiration and take care of them. “Experiencing hunger and hardships as an immigrant, I find every opportunity to be a blessing and I try my hardest on each and every one of them.” 

Being bullied, because of virtues taught by his parents and Christian faith, Mr. Pua did not give in to peer pressure. “Rather I created a strategy where I would be able to better myself and others through cadets, church, volunteering, and a part-time job in a restaurant. Despite the challenging environment, I had my trust in God and I put in double the effort that was required to further increase my chance of becoming a pilot.” 

Without access to a vehicle, Mr. Pua had to commute via bus or train to cadets and all the other activities. “This gave me a skill in time management and being on time at least half an hour as we don’t know when there are delays such as the bus being stopped due to malfunctions, or the train has to be repaired.” 

Mr. Pau had secured a job as a flight instructor, however, due to the pandemic, this fell through. He found himself back living with his parents. With no public places to study, such as libraries, he was left with one opportunity, in his parents’ garage. There he studied for his commercial pilot’s license and his Instrument Type Rating Examination (INRAT), while not letting go of his physical health by exercising daily. Winter proved to be especially challenging due to the cold. 

A motivational quote that has helped Mr. Pua through life, “Never giving up, doing my best, helping others in need and letting God handle the rest”.  

“As I have no control over the circumstances nor the environment, I could only control myself and how I treat others. In that way, no matter the challenge I succeed in the best I can.” 

Mr. Pua will use the scholarship to help finance his instructor rating with Coastal Pacific Aviation Ltd. 

The COPA Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship Selection Committee awards this scholarship in support of Mr. Mark Daniel Pua’s pursuit of advanced flight training. 

  • The Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship Fund was first established in April 1995 through contributions from family and friends of Neil J. Armstrong, COPA members and the Canadian aviation community.
  • Contributions are made to the COPA Flight Safety Foundation, Neil J. Armstrong Scholarship Fund for which a charitable tax receipt can be issued.
  • 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 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 candidates and to instruct COPA to disburse funds in accordance with the guidelines.
  • The principle award each year, provided suitable candidates are presented, shall be the Ab-Initio Scholarship which shall provide $10,000 toward defraying the training costs associated with the Private Pilot License.
  • The Advanced Training Sholarship of $5,000 is available for those pursuing a commercial license, endorsements or ratings.
  • The Scholarship amount is the maximum that will be paid by COPA from the fund 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 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.