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Local student wins prestigious national aviation scholarship 

July 28, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart 

A local student has received one of 50 scholarships from the Royal Canadian Air Force Foundation. 

Viviana Verhaar, of Beeton, who is currently studying at Western University in the Commercial Aviation Management program, received the 2023 RCAF Foundation Student Scholarship offered to Canada’s next generation of aviation and aerospace leaders. The scholarship was sponsored by Air Canada through the RCAF Foundation. 

The scholarships are designed to assist post-secondary students in S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, math) area of study who are planning future careers in the fields of either aviation or aerospace. 

Having a passion for aviation since she was young, Viviana did not begin her post-secondary education in aviation. She started her university career at Western in Health Sciences, but made the switch to the Commercial Aviation Management program after meeting other people at the university who were in the CAM program and shared her passion for aviation. 

She entered the CAM program at Western in her second year where she enjoyed taking courses like Introduction to Aviation, Weather and Climate, Economics of Air Transport, and Contemporary Issues in Aviation Management. 

Her education led her to decide to pursue a career as a commercial pilot. 

She is now training to be a pilot after first going airborne in October. Starting off in a Cessna, she is now flying a Katana DA20. 

“I’ve always loved aviation since I was a kid,” Viviana said of her early interest in flying. “I’ve always loved traveling and everything that had to do with planes. I started taking flying lessons in late October. I am pursuing my Private Pilot License and plan to have it completed by the end of this summer. You can start your flight training in year two, and ideally, graduate with your commercial pilot’s license. I am currently flying a Katana DA20. It’s a really fun plane to fly. I started out on a Cessna 172. I hope to work for Air Canada one day. Currently I’m booked for three dual flights with a flight instructor, as well as one or two solos. You have to develop that confidence,” she said of the steps you take to earn your wings. 

Flying is one of those activities where you must eventually take that step and go up on your own.  

Becoming a commercial pilot that flies the big planes requires several years of working your way up in aviation. 

“Usually you don’t get into the airlines right away,” Viviana said of what it takes to fly passenger planes. “You have to be something like a flight instructor or be a bush pilot for a while so you can build up your hours.” 

After graduation, Viviana plans to continue her work in advocacy for women in aviation. For the past two years, she has been active in Western Aviatrix, and Western’s Women in Aviation International Chapter. 

“Congratulations to this year’s impressive and inspiring scholarship recipients,” said Jeremy Diamond CEO RCAF Foundation. “The RCAF Foundation is excited to see the positive impact these students will make in their community, sector, and country. The future is bright.” 

The Royal Canadian Air Force Foundation is a Canadian charity whose mission is to recognize, foster, and celebrate the Royal Canadian Air Force through community engagement, education programs and commemorative activities. 

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