Neil Armstrong Scholarship

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

The principle award each year, provided suitable candidates are presented, shall be the “ab-initio” award which shall, funds permitting, be of sufficient amount to pay the average of flight training costs across Canada to obtain a Private Pilots License as an ab-initio candidate.  In addition, there shall be two awards each year for lesser amounts as recommended from time to time by the Committee, which shall be not be limited to ab-initio applicants and may be used for advanced flight training.

Since the Scholarship started in 1996, 57 students have received $196,000 in scholarship funding.

“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 Neil Armstrong Scholarship

Complete the Neil Armstrong Scholarship application form.  For more information or to have the application form emailed to you, contact Heather McLaren email: or Tel.: 613-236-4901, ext. 110.

The deadline for applications to be received at COPA headquarters is March 1 of each year. The winners are typically notified on or about May 1, of each year.  Applications should be addressed to:

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

  • A Neil Armstrong Scholarship Fund has been established through contributions solicited from friends of Neil Armstrong and from the Canadian aviation community. Donations can be made to the COPA Flight Safety Foundation Neil Armstrong Fund. A charitable tax receipt will be issued.
  • The purpose of the fund is twofold:
    • To honor one of Canada’s foremost aviation members;
    • To provide flight training to worthy young persons who exemplify the fine character, optimism and love of adventure which were the characteristics of Neil J. Armstrong.
  • The Fund guidelines prohibit use of the principal to cover any shortfall in training funds. Any surplus of fund earnings may be used to cover presentation costs, sponsor attendance at the presentation by the recipient or a member of the Armstrong family, to increase the capital of the fund or to increase the number of awards.
  • The Fund is administered by the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association. The assets are used for the sole purpose described in the fund administrative guidelines.
  • There is a Selection Committee of not less than five (5) people, including two (2) representatives of the Armstrong family, the Chair of the COPA board and two Directors of COPA.
  • Qualified recipients shall be Canadian citizens or landed immigrants not less than 15 years of age on the date of application and not more than 21 years of age. 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;
    • Financial need.
  • Applications must be sent to the COPA head office in Ottawa, Ontario. Calls for applications are published in the COPA Flight magazine and other participating publications.
  • The Selection Committee will have full and final authority to select the winning candidate and to instruct the Board or its delegate to allocate funds in accordance with the fund guidelines.
  • The winning candidate(s) may select the facility at which the flight training is to be taken, subject to the approval of the Board. The training facility shall be a licensed Flying School or educational institute with facilities satisfactory to the Board.
  • 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, the Board 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 the Board 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;
    • costs of advanced flight training and endorsements up to the limits of the scholarship.
  • Costs which are not covered include the following: personal meals or transportation to and from the training facility, clothing, aviation equipment or supplies which are not required for the program. The Board will have final authority to define and approve authorized expenditures.
  • The annual deadline for applications to be received at COPA headquarters is March 1st. The winner will be notified by May 15.

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 Twin Comanche 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.

1st place winner

COPA NJA SCHOLARSHIP 2017 AB-INITIO ($7,000): Deborah Edwards, age 18

The love of challenge and adventure has been an important driving force in Ms. Deborah Edwards life; “that is why I love to fly, rock climb, hike, and travel”.

Deborah enjoys rock climbing because she revels in the physical challenge and sense of adventure it offers. It also provides intriguing puzzles to solve, as the climber must decipher the most effective way to complete a climb in order to succeed. “I sometimes think of rock climbing as a metaphor for life: overcoming obstacles, developing self-confidence, persevering, and working with others to achieve objectives”.

Ms. Edwards serves her community by volunteering with a local counselling agency to help provide free mental health seminars to the community. She is thankful for the opportunity to serve her community in this way, believing that both mental health issues and the stigma associated with them are very prevalent in our society, and access to mental health services is limited.  Deborah has also participated in various other community activities, such as bringing food to an outreach centre for the homeless, playing music at a number of retirement homes, and volunteering to work with children at a local church.

Deborah was thrilled to experience the wonder of flight first hand in an introductory flying lesson this past summer. “I think that I will be a competent pilot because of the work ethic, dedication, and motivation I possess, as demonstrated by my scholastic record, athleticism and volunteer experience”. Many of her teachers and coaches have commented that she is a hard-working and dedicated person, who follows through on her commitments.

Ms. Edwards hope is to learn to fly so that she can provide humanitarian aid to people in isolated locations. “I can think of no better way to use my future piloting skills than to help those without access to what they need”.


2nd place winner

COPA NJA SCHOLARSHIP 2017 ($3,000):  David Austin, age 19

Mr. David Austin was sixteen and attending high school when hired by the local Carstairs Co-op Grocery store in 2014, and immediately started saving money for flight school. He saved his income from the Co-op throughout high school and received a Co-op bursary upon graduation.

At age eighteen, David started ground school and when the weather warmed up in February 2016, began flight training with Sky Wings Aviation. Mr. Austin was able to complete his first solo after only eight flight hours.  Ultimately, he was recommended for his flight test, and successfully passed his private check ride and written exams after the first attempt, with 47 total flight hours.

His immediate plans are to earn his commercial license, multi-engine, seaplane, IFR, and instructor ratings by the end of 2018. “As an instructor, I will help others further their own safe and enthusiastic passion for flying”. Once he has the required hours, he would like to get a job as a bush pilot or medevac. “Along the way, I readily welcome any situation that would present itself to help my fellow man with humanitarian flight opportunities, both here in Canada, and around the world”.


3rd place winner

COPA NJA SCHOLARSHIP 2017 ($2,000): Whitney Schmidt, age 17

Ms. Whitney Schmidt started her aviation training at the Olds-Didsbury airport just outside Calgary. She has completed the ground school training with two hours of flight training to date.  Whitney has her radio operators licence and is working towards her Student Permit.

Ms. Schmidt’s interest in aviation is relatively new and after some research, started with Calgary Flight Training Centre. “However, I have always been in love with the sky. To me the sky represents hope and the promise of a better tomorrow.”

Whitney intends to get her commercial licence after her private pilot’s licence. She would also like to acquire an aircraft maintenance engineer licence and has taken the first steps toward that by applying to SAIT’s aircraft maintenance program. “I chose to apply to the Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Technology program because my goal is to be a mission pilot and as I may be flying into remote locations, it would be beneficial to have the knowledge and skills to fix my aircraft should something go wrong”. Ms. Schmidt’s plan is to work for an organization called Mission Aviation Fellowship.