The first disbursement from the Alan D. Fuller Memorial Flying Scholarship program has been awarded to Gavin Swanson, who is working toward his certified flight instructor rating.
The scholarship program was established by Lisa Jukes as a memorial to the late Fuller, who died in a plane crash Nov. 1, 2020, along with Valerie Holmes and Linda Edwards near the Jamestown airport. Jukes said Fuller was a good friend who helped with her dog rescue. She, like others, was devastated by the crash.
“This is my way of giving back,” she said. “It wasn’t just me that he helped. He helped a lot of people, and he was a well-respected member of the aviation community. He was very well-loved. This (scholarship program) is a positive thing that he would want.”
Jukes said the program had three applicants this year, and 18-year-old Swanson was chosen as the recipient. The Jamestown teen demonstrated he had the ability and the drive to continue his aviation education. Jukes said Swanson earned his pilot’s license at the age of 17, which is a huge accomplishment.
“He’s very, very knowledgeable, and he’s super smart,” she said. “This kid’s got a head on his shoulders. He embodies a deep desire to take aviation to the next generation, and the desire to teach people how to fly. He is dedicated to the aviation field, just as Alan was. This young man has many hours at such a young age, and we believe he may own Luscombe Aircraft at some point in his lifetime — that’s truly speculation on that, but his desires are extremely motivating.”
Swanson said he feels honored to receive the first scholarship, as he became acquainted with Fuller before the crash. He said he connected with Fuller over the Civil Air Patrol and other aviation programs.
“When the crash happened, I jumped right up and got right to the airport to search with everybody to find the aircraft,” he said. “Originally, I wasn’t even going to apply for the scholarship because I kind of felt like it could be for someone else. But then I was encouraged by a lot of people to show up to apply, so I wrote an application, and I felt like if anybody else deserved it more, they would get it.”
Swanson said he is grateful for the scholarship and will be able to pursue his certified flight instructor rating. He said he hopes to stay in the area and remain involved in the aviation community here in Jamestown. said the community is much like a family and offers a great deal of support and encouragement for those involved.
Swanson currently works with the Luscombe Aircraft Corp.
“Right now, they’ve really given me a lot of opportunities flying a smaller aircraft across the country, and being able to build, fly and sell the aircraft,” he said. “It’s a really great opportunity for me for work-based learning along with my studies here at JCC in Jamestown.”
Swanson added that the Jamestown Airport and the Jamestown area aviation community are full of opportunities.
“Aviation is a very vast industry, and there are immense opportunities for youth in aviation,” he said. “You could start on the line or the mechanics field — or you could be a pilot. Right now, after COVID, things are bouncing back. If you’re interested in aerospace and aviation, it’s a really hot field right now.”
Jukes said the program will begin taking applications for the next round of scholarships on Jan. 1, 2022. Applications are due by May 31, 2022. The program is open to anyone within 50 miles of the Jamestown airport who is 16 or older. Jukes said the $2,000 scholarship can be used with Majestic Flying at either the Jamestown or Dunkirk airports.
For more information, interested parties can visit the scholarship program’s Facebook page.
A formal scholarship presentation gathering will be held at the Airport on Sept. 10, 2021, at 6:20 p.m. Jukes said the event will be open to the public.