Executive Director Letter

Abby Austin

Greetings Alaska Airmen Association Members and Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a joyous holiday season filled with family and friends and at least a few moments carved out for some airplane talk! It was a treat to see some of you at the Airmen Holiday Party and celebrate the season with you.

Of course, the Airmen Association has a lot of exciting things planned for 2024 but I can’t resist the urge revisit a few of the high points of 2023 before moving on.

· We had another record-breaking scholarship season with over $130,000 awarded across all segments of the industry including Aerospace Engineering and Drone Piloting.

· We launched a series of Private Pilot test prep study sessions with the help of local online ground school providers Fly8MA and Angle of Attack and financial support from the T3 Alliance. Our final registration count was up to 81 students with great participation! I look forward to reporting how many of them are successful in passing their written exam in the coming weeks.

· We expanded our hands-on training events to include topics like instruction on wheels and floats at our Lake Hood Ops Event and a two-day fabric and covering course hosted at Danchini Aero in Wasilla.

· Our NextGen Aviation Club has grown to almost 200 members with monthly social gatherings and regular educational and networking events.

· The Great Alaska Aviation Gathering is hitting its stride in Palmer with bigger and better offerings every year and growing participation from both exhibitors and attendees

· Our Govt Affairs Advocate, Adam White, had a number of successes on projects he’s been working on ranging from expanding US Customs availability on the Canadian borders to making sure new airspace expansions did not go unchecked. Be sure to check out alaskaairmen.org/advocacy to get the latest on Adam’s work for our members.

Overall, 2023 was a great year for the Association. Not only am I proud of what we accomplished but we had a fantastic time collaborating with members, volunteers, and industry partners to make it happen! I am grateful to all involved for their hard work and support.

But on to 2024 where we will aim even higher! Danchini Aero is building you all an incredible raffle fundraiser aircraft, we have some exciting new events planned, and we’re always dreaming up new ideas for the Gathering, but it’s scholarships that are on our mind this month!

Our 2024 Scholarship Season is officially in full swing, and we’re thrilled that we’ll be supporting a new batch of bright minds on their educational journey. Applications are currently open at

alaskaairmen.org/scholarships and will be available until March 1 so please share with anyone in your life that may be looking to start or continue on a path to an aviation career in Alaska.

Also, mark your calendars because we’ve got some great Scholarship Outreach events just around the corner. Helio-AK will be hosting an event at their hangar at Birchwood airport in Chugiak on January 19 and another event is planned in collaboration with the UAF Aircraft Maintenance program on February 3rd in Fairbanks. Check out our website, email newsletter, and social media channels for details. These events will share career opportunities and tips for crafting a successful scholarship application to any and all that might be interested.

This scholarship season promises to hold even more opportunity than last year with the addition of some new supporters. Several of our industry colleagues are painfully aware of the workforce needs in the industry and have chosen to sponsor the scholarship program this year in an effort to help meet that need. Northrim Bank, Glacier Oil and Gas, and Alaska Air Transit are new partners this season. Of course, we are also extremely grateful for the return of previous years’ supporters like the Saltchuk Family of Companies, Beluga Air, and Sutton Air Salvage, to name a few. Please visit the scholarship section of our website to see an up-to-date list of our 2024 partners and take a moment to share in our thanks!

I am also very excited to announce five new $10,000 scholarships for aviation maintenance professionals in 2024! In partnership with the Bill Stroecker Foundation, whose trustees share our commitment to empowering the aviation workforce, these scholarships are designed to uplift aspiring aviation mechanics. As we all know, the aviation industry is experiencing a shortage of qualified mechanics. The need for skilled individuals who can maintain and repair general aviation aircraft has never been more critical. The Bill Stroecker Foundation support for these scholarships isn’t just an investment in education; it’s a direct contribution to addressing the workforce needs of a segment of the industry that keeps us all moving forward. The Alaska Airmen Association is proud to facilitate the project for them.

Our commitment to empowering our aviation community also extends beyond scholarships. We’re diving headfirst into workforce development initiatives, connecting individuals with the skills and opportunities they need to thrive. From youth aviation STEM events to resume workshops, we’re crafting pathways that lead to success and your support is the fuel propelling these initiatives forward. Now that you’re in the know about our 2024 Scholarship Program and the incredible impact your support can have, we invite you to join us on this journey! Whether you’re inspired to donate, volunteer, or even host an event, there are countless ways for you to support General Aviation in Alaska.

Donate: Your generosity fuels dreams, and every dollar contributes to scholarships, workshops, and programs that empower individuals to chart their course toward success. Consider making a donation, big or small, and watch as your investment propels someone’s future to new heights.

Volunteer: Looking to make a hands-on impact? We welcome volunteers with open arms! Whether you have a knack for mentoring, a passion for event planning, or skills you’d love to share, there’s a place for you in our community. Your time and expertise can be the catalyst for positive change.

Host an Event: Are you an industry professional or a community educator? Consider hosting an event with us! From virtual gatherings to in-person seminars, every event brings us one step closer to creating opportunities in General Aviation for our members. Let’s turn your expertise into a force for good!

To get involved, simply reach out to our team. We can’t wait to hear from you and explore how your unique talents and passions can contribute to our shared goal of workforce development, making education accessible to all, and strengthening GA in AK!

As I wrap up this letter, I want to take a moment to express our deepest gratitude. Your belief in our mission is what propels us forward, and we’re beyond lucky to have you all as members. Remember, every scholarship funded, and every skill acquired is a step closer to a brighter, stronger General Aviation community in Alaska. We couldn’t do it without you, and for that, we’re eternally thankful. Best Wishes for the New Year!

Abby Austin

Executive Director

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