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The Airmen's Goal

In the next 10 years, there is a need for 255,000 pilots, 193,000 mechanics, and 1 million support positions in the Aviation Industry to be filled in the US.

The Alaska Airmen Association is working hard to meet that need in our great state through the Aviation Scholarship Program and NextGen Aviation Club.

All donations are fully tax deductible and every dollar donated reaches the students. In 2023, we received over 180 applications from all over the


For several years, the Alaska Airmen’s Association has provided scholarships for individuals interested in pursuing careers in aviation. These scholarships are funded through various sources, including the Airmen’s Aircraft Raffle, the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering, and contributions from individuals. Typically, they amount to $2,500, but this can vary based on the donor's preferences. As the saying goes, "The Lord helps those who help themselves," and while we don't claim divine status, we strongly believe in this philosophy. We estimate a success rate of around 90%, with most applicants achieving their desired rating or certification within their chosen scholarship category.

I've always been a strong advocate for education, a trait that seems to run in my family. My grandfather authored several books on career counseling long before the term gained widespread recognition. Now, in my retirement after a fulfilling aviation career, I reflect on the invaluable mentors who guided me in my early days. Unfortunately, most of them are no longer with us, and I can't repay their kindness.

My parents, Don and Carol Bedford, were hardworking and frugal individuals who left me a substantial inheritance. I would feel guilty spending it frivolously. What better way to honor their memory, as well as that of those who supported me, than by assisting a deserving young person in embarking on an aviation journey?

In the past, the application deadline was in the middle of winter, with recipients notified shortly thereafter, and the awards ceremony held annually at the Gathering. This year, recognizing that many in Alaska pursue A&P mechanics certification through the University of Alaska's fall program, we've introduced an additional round of scholarships focused on the A&P career path. The application period was held over the summer, with scholarships to be awarded in the fall. The Alaska Airmen’s Board of Directors has allocated $10,000 to fund four $2,500 scholarships. We are considering increasing our contribution and invite your business to consider a deductible donation of $1,250, which the Airmen's Association would match, effectively doubling the number of scholarships available. As a 501(c)(3) organization, all donations are tax-deductible, and 100% of the funds benefit students. You can receive recognition at half the usual cost and possibly discover a valuable employee in the years to come.


Dennis Bedford Former Board Member and Supporter of the Scholarship Program


As part of our commitment to considerably strengthen our scholarship program through additional funding, the Airmen's Association has been partnering with other community and industry actors to co-fund even more scholarships for Alaska's aviation students.

You may honor the name of an individual or have your business or organization recognized while supporting the aspirations of young aviation enthusiasts.

The Alaska Airmen's Association will match your donation up to $10,000 in $2,500 increments towards all scholarships categories and conditions that you select.

For more information, please email

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Kyler Forth, NextGen Board Member/Scholarship Recipient

To the Alaska Airmen’s Association,

This scholarship has been a massive help as I now have a Tailwheel Endorsement and have learned an invaluable tool of a different way in thinking how to handle and fly a plane (a mindset and though process that I will carry and use in every flight on any plane I fly - small and large - for as long as I fly). This scholarship has been a massive help to me and has set me up for life in my many flight hours to come!

Thank you to those who donate and support the next generation of aviators in the Alaskan skies who are the best examples of why “GA in AK” is truly important and why it matters!

Greatly Appreciated,
Kyler Forth



These generous donors have kicked off our 2023 scholarship fundraising this year. We are grateful for their contribution to Alaska aviation and can't wait to share more as the fundraising continues!


We would like to offer a special thank you to the Saltchuk family of companies whose

generous donation allowed us to fund four scholarship awards for 2023.

Northrim Bank and Glacier Oil & Gas

Thank you to Northrim Bank and Glacier Oil & Gas for helping the Extra round of Maintenance Scholarships happen!

Barry Santana

Barry has funded two scholarships this year. Barry's contribution will provide a $2,500 Aircraft Mechanic Scholarship in honor of Voight Clum and a $2,500 Pilot Scholarship in honor of Jay Hammond, whose Cessna 185 Barry now flies.

Austin and Merry Engebretson

Austin and Merry donated $2,500 towards our scholarships this year. They've taken advantage of the Association Matching Funds to create two $2,500 scholarships, one for piloting and one for maintenance.

James Baum

James donated $2,500 towards two scholarships. We've matched his donation, stretching his funds. Through the Association Matching Funds James has created two $2,500 scholarships, one for piloting and one for maintenance.

Meadow Lakes Flying Dames

The Meadow Lakes Flying Dames scholarship was generously funded by an anonymous donor. These funds are intended to support a female pilot on her training journey.

Sutton Aircraft Salvage

A home-operated aircraft salvage yard located 4 miles north of Palmer specializing in Cessna parts.  Sutton Aircraft has helped fund our scholarship program for several years now and you can see them supporting the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering in the Fly Market, as well! 

In Memory of Dr. George F. Gates

In 1964, Dr. Gates graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado pursuing engineering and pre-med.  After completing residency in orthopedics in San Antonio, Texas, he selected Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, where he also became a recreational "Bush Pilot." In 1978, George separated from the Air Force and relocated his family to a remote cabin for an Alaska "living off the grid" adventure.

His family and friends have chosen to memorialize his love of aviation in Alaska by supporting the dreams and education of a future aviation professional.  $2500 will be awarded in his name.  Thank you Dr. Gates and family!

2023 Co-Funded Scholarships

$2500 scholarship funded by donations from the Alaska Airmen Board of Directors

$2500 scholarship in memory of S.S. Phillips

$2500 scholarship in memory of Phil Block, Alaska Airlines Pilot, Retired

$2500 scholarship funded by the John H Nystrum Fund


Thank you to all of our donors!

Additional donations were received from members and the public totaling over $6000!  Every dollar donated goes straight into the hands of a deserving applicant so each one counts and we are so grateful for the support!