The Ray Foundation, founded in 1963 by James and Joan Ray, has awarded $300,000 to the UND (University of North Dakota) Aerospace Foundation to cover the costs of private pilot training for military veterans. The Ray Foundation’s mission is to support “programs and organizations, primarily within the field of aviation, that develop life skills such as honesty, work ethic, self-confidence, and self-discipline in young adults.” The training will be conducted at the UND Phoenix Flight Training Center in Phoenix, beginning as early as next month.
The Ray Foundation/UND Foundation program is designed to help veterans launch a career in aviation, as funding through the GI Bill only applies to advanced flight training. After receiving their private pilot certificates, program participants can continue to receive financial assistance for their training for advanced ratings under the GI Bill, including commercial pilot and flight instructor credentials.
The funding is expected to cover roughly 80 percent of the cost of the private pilot certificate for up to 25 veterans. The UND Phoenix Flight Training Center is an FAA-certified Part 141 flight school located at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. UND Phoenix is approved to train veterans and their eligible dependents using VA education benefits in the state of Arizona.
In addition to providing verification of their military service and eligibility for VA benefits, applicants will also need to supply an FAA first- or second-class medical certificate and a signed letter of intent to continue training at UND-affiliated Chandler-Gilbert Community College’s Airway Science Technology Associate in Applied Science (AAS) program in Mesa, Arizona. There is also an interview required, which can be in person or virtual, and applicants must be willing to relocate to Mesa for up approximately 24 months to complete the program.