Youth is the Future

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ASU student Megan Whittard is first recipient of TB2 scholarship

Octavio Serrano     College Times

Megan Whittard made Scottsdale aviation history.

The ASU student is the first recipient of the Thunderbird Field II Veterans Memorial’s aviation scholarship.

“When you read her history, it’s like reading a novel and, at her young age, everything she’s accomplished is just phenomenal,” says Steve Ziomek, TB2 chairman and president.

Whittard began her flight training as an East Valley Institute of Technology student and earned her private pilot’s certification. She landed a Bachelor of Science degree at ASU in aeronautical management technology.

“Megan is an outstanding example of what a student’s interest in aviation can accomplish,” Ziomek says. “Along with her studies and keeping a 4.0 GPA, Megan also works as a certified flight instructor teaching other new students how to fly while she builds her hours of flying time. We are extremely proud to present her with our first aviation scholarship and I, as a pilot myself, look forward to following her advancement within the aviation industry.”

The Chandler resident is continuing her education with the 4 + 1 program to earn her master’s in aviation management and human factors. The Corona del Sol graduate is planning on working for a regional airline and then a major airline. She says she is happy to have become part of the aviation community, which she says has always been supportive of her.

“I just wanted to say how incredibly honored and blessed I am to be a part of this community and to be chosen for this particular scholarship,” Whittard says. “I could not imagine having gone a different path and not being a part of a community like this.”

Mayor Jim Lane says he is glad to see young people take an interest in the community, especially one that is understaffed.

“Unemployment is very low, but at the same time there are certain trades and professions that are not being filled by virtue of somewhat of a change in temperament of where young people should go to make sure they have a bright future,” Lane says.

“That’s what we think about here in Scottsdale. We want to make sure we’re building an economy that’s going to be a place for our youth to have an opportunity. It’s the youth’s future.”

Although Lane had just met Whittard, he was impressed by her bio and resume. With that much work and dedication, it’s hard to not stand out.

“Megan, she seems like a fine young lady, and frankly, from her bio or resume, it’s hard to beat,” Lane says. “To have someone her age to have been engaged in so many things and with such an interest, I’m sure there has been a lot of sacrifice of some downtime.

“She has seemingly brought it all together, and it’s recognized by a great group that will assist her in that path, and for somebody that is that dedicated, it’s hard to turn your back on.”

TB2 is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving Scottsdale aviation history, honoring all military veterans and creating educational opportunities in aviation for young students.

During World War II, Scottsdale Airport, built for the sole purpose of training U.S. Army Air Corp pilots in 1942, was known as Thunderbird Field II. Thunderbird Field II graduated over 5,500 men and women pilots, of who many saw military action in Europe and the Pacific. The field and school were deactivated on October 16, 1944, and sold to Arizona State Teachers College (ASU), then to the Arizona Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, and finally to the city of Scottsdale in 1966.

As for Whittard, she is happy with her trajectory and to be part of the TB2 legacy. For someone whose family history is set on the ground, she has found considerable support from the aviation world.

“I come from a background of absolutely no aviation in my family or friends or anything like that,” Whittard says. “I have found the aviation community to be so welcoming, and everyone in the community, all they want is for you to be successful and for you to be involved, and they want to help toward your goal.” CT

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