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     What kind of aviation scholarships occur in South Dakota?  It took some digging, but here is what was found.  If an aviation scholarship was missed, please let us know and we will alert our members about it (

     General aviation in South Dakota needs more scholarships to assistance young people in getting started in aviation careers.  Endowing a scholarship in an aviation program with a gift of $10,000 can result in an annual $500 scholarship (5% payout).  Likewise, a gift of property that can be sold and turned into an endowment fund for a scholarship.  Purchasing a small insurance policy and making the beneficiary an endowment fund at a school, college, or university with an aviation program would also benefit young people.  Scholarships are a great way to encourage general aviation careers among young people.  Think about it.  Wouldn’t establishing an endowed scholarship be a great way to remember a special person in your like – even yourself.  An example is the Greg Voight Scholarship, which was a one-time $500 scholarship for a student in the Aviation Maintenance Technology program at Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, during the 2003-2004 school year was given in the name of a Watertown aviation mechanic.

The Becker-Hansen Memorial Scholarship was established in January 1998 by the South Dakota Pilots Association to honor the memory and spirit of state pilots Ron Becker (left) and Dave Hansen (right), who lost their lives in the crash of the state's MU-2 aircraft, which killed Governor George Michelson and five others. The Scholarship originally awarded $500 annually to a South Dakota pilot or student pilot to complete their training or a rating. The purpose of the scholarship is to encourage more pilot starts and advanced ratings in South Dakota. The award was increased to $800 beginning in 2005, increased to $1,000 in 2009, and increased to $1,250 in 2011.

The criteria for the award and the nomination form are located below. Nomination forms are due to the SDPA President no later than mid-August. Judging of the nominations by the SDPA officers will occur in September, and the award winner announced in the November issue of SDPA News.

Scholarship Winners:

  • 1998 Al Rohrbach (Pierre; $500)
  • 1999 Denise Vig (Faith; $500)
  • 2000 Misti Ausland (Florence; $500)
  • 2001 Joshua Grundt (Rapid City; $500)
  • 2002 Jody Weiderback (Watertown; $500)
  • 2003 Tyler Johnson (Brandon; $500)
  • 2004 Bob Arneson (Rapid City; $500)
  • 2005 Kevin Hamann (Sioux Falls; $800)
  • 2006 Scott Schramm (Brookings; $800)
  • 2007 Timothy Hyke (Huron, $800)
  • 2008 Dan Berryhill (Spearfish, $800)
  • 2009 Justin Bierwirth (Custer, $1,000)
  • 2010 Rachel Odens (Vermillion, $1,000)
  • 2011 Brad Woerner (Yankton, $1,250)
  • 2012 Nathan Keith (Hermosa, $1,250)
  • 2013 Brandon West (Brandon, $1,250)
  • 2014 Elizabeth Hubbard (Spearfish, $1,250)
  • 2015 Somewhere in SD

Criteria for the Becker-Hansen Memorial Scholarship Award

  1. The candidate must be at least 16 years old and sponsored by a member of the SDPA.
  2. The sponsor must write a letter of recommendation, and highlight any characteristics or accomplishments of the candidate as they apply to aviation, and clubs or organizations they are a member of such as local, state, regional, national, or international aviation groups. The letter should also indicate the candidate’s financial need for the scholarship.  Submit the letter by August 10 to the SDPA Executive Director (Steve Hamilton, 303 Golf Lane, Yankton, SD 57078-1727).
  3. The sponsor shall complete the "Becker-Hansen Memorial Scholarship Nomination" form, sign it, and submit it to the SDPA Executive Director by August 10th.
  4. The candidate must write a letter stating why they are deserving of the scholarship, their involvement in aviation activities and aviation interests, and their future plans, sign the letter, and submits the letter to the Executive Director by August 10th.
  5. The funds are to be used exclusively for obtaining a pilot's certificate or to upgrade a current certificate (add a rating).
  6. The scholarship funds must be expended within 12 months of the time of the award.
  7. A SD-based instructor must conduct the training.
  8. Cost of instruction should be billed directly to the SDPA Treasurer as the training progresses and will be paid up to a total of $1,050. The final $200 will be paid after the scholarship winner provides a 1-page typed summary/story about their training experience (total $1,250) (see criteria #9).
  9. The Scholarship winner shall report in a 1-page typed summary/story to the SDPA Executive Director about their training experience within 1 year after receiving the award. The story will published in the SDPA News.

“Reapply” Policy:  The SDPA will consider an application from anyone who has previously received the Becker-Hansen Memorial Scholarship after a delay of 3 years, but will give the candidate a lower-priority for receiving a second scholarship than other candidates.  **Policy adopted by vote at the SDPA meeting in Mitchell on July 27, 2008. 

“Training Activity” Policy:  If the scholarship winner does not undertake flight training in a timely manner, i.e., within 6 months of the date of the scholarship award letter, they will be notified of the lost of the scholarship, and an alternate scholarship award winner will be notified of their selection for the scholarship.  An alternate scholarship winner will be selected based on ranking second in the selection process.  The same “Training Activity” policy applies to the alternate award winner.  In the event that neither applicant uses any funds within 6 months of award, then the funds will stay in the SDPA treasury for future use. **Policy adopted by vote at the SDPA meeting in Philip on November 10, 2012.

“Preference” Policy:  Lack of previous experience shall not be an emphasis factor when ranking applicants for the scholarship award when evaluating candidates seeking a pilot certificate and those seeking advanced ratings, such as instrument, commercial, CFI, etc.  **Policy adopted by vote at the SDPA meeting in Philip on November 10, 2012.

SDPA Aviation Maintenance Technology Scholarship:  The South Dakota Pilots Association created the SDPA Aviation Mechanic Scholarship in September 2005 to acknowledge the importance of aviation maintenance technicians to aviation in South Dakota.  The scholarship is to assist and recognize students enrolled in the Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program at Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, SD.  Each year SDPA will award $750 to a second-year student in the AMT Program [hot link to] through the Lake Area Technical Foundation.  This Scholarship program is one method SDPA has for “giving something back” to the aviation community. 

Criteria for the SDPA Aviation Maintenance Technology Scholarship Award

  1. The candidate must be a second-year student enrolled in the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program at the Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) and have maintained the satisfactory progress requirements as state in the LATI student handbook.
  2. The candidate must complete the scholarship form and attach a letter stating their interest in aviation maintenance and their future plans in aviation maintenance.  The letter should list outstanding personal qualities that make him/her a deserving candidate for the scholarship such as highlighting any characteristics or accomplishments of the candidate as they apply to aviation or to clubs or organizations they are a member of such as SDPA, AOPA, EAA, Civil Air Patrol, local, state, regional, national, or international aviation groups, etc. 
  3. Winner selection and administration of scholarship funds will be accomplished by the Lake Area Technical Institute Foundation and Aviation Maintenance Technology department supervisor/instructors.
  4. Scholarship applications will be made available in mid October to the AMT department supervisor and applications will be given to each second- year student. Deadline for application: Completed applications are due at the LATI Foundation Office by the end of November.
  5. The scholarship award will be applied to the recipient’s second semester tuition and fees. 
  6. The SDPA will publish the Scholarship winner’s letter accompanying their application in the SDPA News.  The applicant’s letter will state their interest in aviation maintenance and their future plans in aviation maintenance, along with a list outstanding personal qualities that make them a deserving candidate for the scholarship

Scholarship Winners:

  • 2006 Andy Griese (Hoven, $500)
  • 2007 Diane Rehfeld (White, $500)
  • 2008 Wade Konechne (Watertown, $500)
  • 2009 Tessa Clark (Watertown, $500)
  • 2010 David Barber (Watertown, $500)
  • 2011 Jordan Rasmussen (Estelline, $750)
  • 2012 Derek Steward (Chelsea, $750)
  • 2013 Justin Mennenger (Onida, $750)
  • 2014 Joe Wiskur (Brookings, $1,000)
  • 2015 2nd year student at LATI in Aviation Maintenance Technology Program

ACE Camp Scholarships:  The Aerospace Career and Education (ACE) Camp held annually in July at South Dakota State University (Brookings) receives scholarships from several organizations including the following: Yankton Regional Aviation Association provides 50% scholarships (1993-present); SDPA provides 50% scholarships (1995-present); South Dakota Aviation Association provides one 100% scholarship (1996-2004; sometimes every other year); Women Work! (WEEA; the National Network for Women’s Employment) provides 100% scholarships for females (variable 3 to 6); Brookings Chamber of Commerce: The School to Work Program and the Career Learning Center provides 100% scholarships for disadvantaged youth (variable each year, usually 10 to 12). 

Russ Dangel Memorial Scholarship in Aviation: The recipient of the Russ Dangel Memorial Scholarship in Aviation should be a sophomore or above majoring in the aviation program at SDSU.  The recipient should be a well-rounded individual who has demonstrated a passion for flight.  This scholarship is not renewable.  The scholarship was established in 2006.  The recipient shall be selected by the SDSU Aviation Program Scholarship Committee.  For more information, go to:

Linda Hall-Daschle Scholarship for Aviation Excellence:  This $1,000 Scholarship is awarded annually to a South Dakota State University (Brookings) sophomore Aviation Education student who has received a private pilot’s license through the SDSU Aviation Education program within the last year. The recipient must be a returning student to the Aviation Education Program who has demonstrated outstanding academic and flight training performance.  Aviation Education program Coordinator Jeff Boulware said that four of these scholarships would probably be given out the 2004-2005 school year.  Other requirements can be found at

Harley F. and Adele M. Taylor Scholarship in Aviation Education: The recipient of the Harley F. and Adele M. Taylor Scholarship in Aviation Education shall be a full-time sophomore, junior or senior student who is majoring in one of the three specializations within the Aviation Program in the College of Education and Counseling at SDSU, with at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average.  The recipient must demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and flight training performance and show promise to make a significant contribution to the aviation industry. Awards shall be for $1,000.  The scholarship was established in 2006.  The recipient shall be selected by the Aviation Education Program Scholarship Committee.
For more information, go to:

Aviation Class Scholarship:  This scholarship is given by the Lake Area Technical Institute Foundation (LATF, Watertown), and is used for students at Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) in the Aviation Maintenance Technology program.  (Currently no scholarships are awarded from this fund while the account builds.  To make a donation to this fund or any other fund at the LATF, contact them at 605-882-5284, ext. 268). 


Merit Scholarship:  This scholarship from the LATF goes to any student at Lake Area Technical Institute, including the Aviation Maintenance Technology program, for graduating from high school with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and various ranges of ACT scores (ACT 23-24: $250; ACT 25-27 $500; ACT 28+ $1000).  


Achievement Scholarship:  This $500 scholarship from the LATF goes to one second-year student in each of 21 programs at LATI, including the Aviation Maintenance Technology program.  

SD Ag in the ClassroomThe South Dakota Aviation Association gives a $250 Scholarship to South Dakota Ag in the Classroom (Pierre), typically alternating with the scholarship they give to the ACE Camp.  For more about South Dakota Ag in the Classroom, go to
NOTE from Andrea Barber, Executive Director, SDAA:  The South Dakota Ag in the Classroom host seminars for teachers, developed a website to use in classrooms, created an interactive CDrom called What's Growing in South Dakota, and host interactive exhibits and activities at places like the Sioux Empire Fair and the South Dakota State Fair.  When the SDAA hosts our fall Fly-In, we invite the 5th and 6th graders in the nearest school to come to the airport -- this year (2004) in Winner the kids got to check out different kinds of planes and go out to the flight line while the planes sprayed the dye for the pattern testing.  During this time Lisa Dorschner, Executive Director of SD Ag in the Classroom, talked to the teachers and gave them teaching materials.  The kids all got aviation brochures from SDAA that day -- I'm not sure if we are the main aviation source for them -- I would assume the Fly-In is probably the most interactive aviation part of what they would be around.

Curl Memorial Fund Aviation Scholarship: (limited to EAA Chapter 289 members)
The Curl Aviation Scholarship was established in 2010 and was initiated to honor David Curl of Sioux Falls, who was an active member of Tea EAA Chapter 289.  David passed away in July 13, 2010.  The purpose of this fund administered by the EAA Chapter 289 is to spur and support interest of individuals pursuing a career in aviation.
     The scholarship will be awarded to actively participating members of EAA 289 who have been active in the chapter for at least one year.  The scholarship funds will be used for costs related to obtaining a Sport or Private Pilots Certificate.  Persons interested in the Scholarship must submit a completed application documenting how the funds will be used and outlining what the individual’s financial need for this scholarship.  The scholarship will pay twenty five percent (25%) of documented costs up to one thousand dollars ($1000) per year for each individual.  The successful scholarship candidate must submit paid receipts the Chapter 289 Treasurer to receive reimbursement. For an application contact:  Ron Keenihan at  or request scholarship information at: EAA Chapter 289

EAA Chapter 806 Flying Scholarship:  The Spearfish EAA Chapter 806 established a Flying Scholarship in about 1990 that is available to students in Belle Fourche, Spearfish, Lead, and Deadwood.  Applications and requirements for this scholarship can be requested from Rich Krogstad, Cell: 605-641-0099, Email:
Note from Rich Krogstad, Spearfish, on the Flying Scholarship (fall 2005):  The first winner was a young lady in the Belle Fourche High School that has gone on to be a professional pilot and I believe she lives in Watertown now.  We have had other students that took one lesson, some did not take any, some have soloed, and so on.  It has been interesting to say the least, have had as many as 10 applications and as few as 1.  I think the process is described quite well on the application.  When there are a lot of applications, it sometimes takes more than two votes.  It has been a great way to promote aviation in this area. 

YRAA Pilot Training Scholarship:  The Yankton Regional Aviation Association and Yankton EAA Chapter 1029 established the YRAA Pilot Training Scholarship in June 2005, and the scholarship is available to students in southeastern South Dakota and northwestern Nebraska.  Pilot training must be accomplished at a Yankton Regional Area airport:  Bloomfield, Creighton, Hartington, Parkston, Springfield, Vermillion, Wayne, or Yankton.  Applications and criteria can be obtained from Steve Hamilton, Phone 605-665-8448, Email:   

Aviation Education Scholarships & Grants: Additional aviation education grants can be found at the FAA’s Aviation and Space Education Outreach Program web site at

Vern (Luverne) Kraemer Aviation Maintenance Scholarship
     I have had a variety of people ask if there was a memorial established for Vern.  Had a hard time coming up with one until I looked at the SDPA web page under scholarships.  Thanks to your wonderful information provided, I contacted the Lake Area Tech Foundation and talked to their director [Tom Paulson].  Any money people donate in honor of Vern will go into the Vern (Luverne) Kraemer Aviation Maintenance Scholarship.  Vern's daughter [Linda Collings] and I will fill out the balance of funds needed to make it an annual $500 scholarship for second year aviation maintenance students.

    Donations can be sent to:
    Lake Area Tech Foundation,    Attn: Tom Paulson
    PO Box 730,    Watertown, SD 57201

    This is a 501(c)3 organization, so all donations are tax deductible. If they send me the money I will make sure that the foundation sends the proper documentation for the donation.
    I would appreciate you putting this in the newsletter sometime [published in the SDPA News in July 2012]. I suspect I am too late for the next issue, but as much as you plan, you really don't expect your loved one to leave you.
    Thank you, Norma Kraemer (Deadwood, SD)
    The Vern (Luverne) Kraemer Aviation Maintenance Scholarship was established in June 2012 in honor of his lifelong service to aviation.  Vern died June 20, 2012, at the age of 95.  He earned his private pilot certificate and trained as an airplane mechanic at the Spearfish, SD, airport.  In WWII Vern flew Coastal Patrol with the Civil Air Patrol on the East Coast.  After the war, he moved to Puyallup, WA, and worked as a commercial pilot, mechanic, and flying instructor, then headed to Alaska to try his hand at being a bush pilot for Petersen Flying Service.  Vern returned to South Dakota in 1949 and started working for Marshall Flying Service in Rapid City, SD.  Eventually he had his own FBO, B&K Aircraft Service at Rapid City Regional Airport.
    In 1952, Vern built the first licensed homebuilt aircraft in the state of South Dakota, the American Triwing.  The plane was placed on display at the terminal at Rapid City Regional Airport in June 2012.  He also built several other homebuilt airplanes during his life, while working as a pilot and mechanic for the rest of his life.  In 1953, he joined a new organization, the Experimental Aircraft Association, with membership number 72, becoming a life member.  In 1963, he started Black Hills Chapter 39 of the Experimental Aircraft Association and over the years mentored countless builders of experimental airplanes.
    Vern received numerous aviation awards throughout his life including FAA Mechanic of the Year awards for South Dakota and the Great Lakes Region, the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award in November 1996 and the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in June 2007.  He was inducted into the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame in 1994. 

Scholarship Winners:

  • 2013  Kai S. Smith  (Ft. Pierre, $500)

Christopher J. Gustad Memorial Scholarship
    The Christopher J. Gustad Memorial Scholarship was established at Lake Area Technical Institute Foundation for students in the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program.   Chris Gustad graduated from Platte High School in 2000 and Lake Area Technical Institute in 2002 with a degree in aviation maintenance.  Chris enjoyed being an aircraft mechanic in Sioux Falls and worked for 7 years at Business Aviation / Landmark.  On October 29, 2011, Chris married Sara, the love of his life – high school sweetheart, best friend, and soul-mate – at Trinity Lutheran Church in Platte.  Chris and Sara decided to move to Chamberlain, and he went to work full-time for Cody Hoffman Farms for awhile.  In May 2011 Chris was diagnosed with kidney cancer.  After needing weekly treatments, Chris and Sara decided to move back to Sioux Falls.  Chris accepted a full-time position with Sanford as an aircraft mechanic in March 2012.  He was a natural fit for the Sanford team and even while in hospice offered trouble-shooting advice.  Chris, age 30, of Sioux Falls, formerly of Platte, SD, passed away on August 1, 2012.  Fund raising efforts in Chris’ memory such as a “Pitch” (card game) Tournament and a Golf Tournament have been held in the past and more are planned in the future.  The goal is to fund a $20,000 endowment at LATI, which would result in a $1,000 annual scholarship. 

Brian’s Glass & Door Scholarship
    The Brian’s Glass and Door, Inc. Scholarship (Brian & Gerri Ann DeBoer, Watertown, SD) was established several years ago with the Lake Area Technical Institute Foundation for students in the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program.  Brian was in the Lake Area Technical Institute – Aviation Maintenance Technology Program during 1970-1971 and graduated with an A&P certificate in 1971.  He took flight training from LATI instructor & CFI Pete Tanis at Watertown and earned his private pilot certificate.  Pete Tanis went on to found the Tanis Aircraft Products, which is noted for their aircraft preheating systems.  Brian said they try to give their annual scholarship to a student in the Aviation Program, but sometime it does not work out. 

Boss Hoss, Inc (Monte & Meredith Warne) Scholarship
    The Boss Hoss, Inc Scholarship (Monte & Meredith Warne) was established several years ago at Lake Area Technical Institute Foundation for students in the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program.  Boss Hoss Inc ( previously donated a Boss Hoss motorcycle valued at about $40,000 to LATI, which was raffled off to fund the Aviation Maintenance Technology Scholarship. 

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