Sporty’s Scholarship Award Winner Has A Passion For Flying


It’s a little unusual for an aviation scholarship to go to a candidate who is not on a professional pilot career path. But with his commitment to contributing to the greater good of the aviation community, the latest recipient of Sporty’s $2,500 Pilot Training+ Scholarship could hardly be more worthy of the award.

A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Ethan DeVries was always happiest when he was around airplanes, but doesn’t regret pursuing his political science degree from Calvin University. He has built his career as a technology consultant, serving startup businesses and government entities. His path led him to Washington, D.C., and to his current home in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he lives with his wife and 17-month-old son.

His passion for aviation rekindled, he took his first discovery flight last December. Now, with 25 hours logged, he will use the award money to pursue his private pilot certificate in a Cessna 172 Skyhawk at George’s Aviation Services, located at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (KHNL). He is also using Sporty’s “Learn to Fly” course for his private license and plans to move up to Sporty’s “Instrument Rating” and “Commercial Pilot Training” courses.

DeVries told Sporty’s, “I’m passionate about aviation and being a pilot. I view it as more than flying, because it’s serving my community in Hawaii, which is crucial due to our reliance on air transportation. I’m committed to building my skills and giving back to the aviation community.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


  1. I hate to say it but I think learning really begins when the smiles are replaced by earned wrinkles.

  2. The learning starts when you have to choose between family and rental costs.
    Most people give up flying when they get married and have a young child.
    Best of luck!

    • Nah, I’m with Dan D Ruff — Arthur, you’re right, to an extent: what stopped me was losing my job (and a 22-year career) that resulted in a drop from “comfortable executive” to a $6k/year income stream. Took most of another twenty years to start over and get back to where I was. Yes, there was/still is a wonderful spouse and daughter and I wouldn’t have missed this for all the world, but they weren’t what stopped me: to paraphrase Eliza Doolittle, “It were good ‘ole American capitalism and being over 40 what done ‘im in.” I finally got back into the air only to have Covid hit immediately after getting signed off, and now two years later I’m finally getting back into the cockpit again. I do love this stuff.

      • I love this stuff too, which is why I’m crazy enough to stick with it for 50 years. MOST people are not crazy enough to stick with it and MOST people do not have loving wives who support this personal passion. I hope he married well…

  3. Learning of course begins with the first lesson – else how could any of get to the wrinkle stage? Don’t belittle initial training – it’s really the biggest “sea change” in knowledge level in the entire process. It’s also the basis for all other learning.

    And I wouldn’t worry about this kid bailing. He already has the kid and wife – and he’s achieved a crazy high level in his career for his age. The guy makes enough to move to Hawaii. He’s not hurting and probably won’t be any time soon. In fact my primary thought in all this is – why this kid? He clearly doesn’t need the scratch. But hey, probably better to help someone whose likely to be in aviation long term than someone who wants to be – but won’t.

  4. Supporting newcomers in aviation, like Ethan DeVries who received the scholarship, is about choosing recipients who are likely to make the most of the opportunity, regardless of their background. While Ethan may look like he comes from a well-off family, it doesn’t guarantee anything, nor should it take away from his merit. The scholarship ensures that investments in aviation students are likely to pay off by choosing someone with the commitment and resources to fully pursue their training. This approach not only boosts the individual’s success but also enriches the entire aviation community by fostering dedicated talents who can inspire and encourage others to follow their passion in flying. Go for it, DeVries!

    • Years ago, I used to preach to people about flying, giving rides and such. Now days there are TFR’s, fences, insane prices for new aircraft, disappearing airports, landing fees, 60+ hour private ratings, Eco-fanaticism, noise complaints, and parts shops that have blown away like the dust. Honestly it’s not only a hard sell these days, but most of the fun is taken out and there is little support from the public at large. I wish everyone well but I won’t lie to them about what’s involved.

  5. Arthur, Lincoln once said: “Giving back means recognizing that while we soar on our own wings, we do so thanks to the tailwinds of those before us. It’s like sharing our in-flight peanuts, not hoarding them for a rainy day.”

    • Raf, I’ve done that for 50 years now .
      Not sure if Lincoln would be happy (or recommend) what we have today either.