Morristown teen wins scholarship, hopes for pilot’s license

A Morristown teenager is working on her pilot’s license through a pilot mentorship program.
Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 4:58 PM EDT
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MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WVLT) - A 17-year-old from Morristown is working on her pilot’s license and taking lessons from pilots.

Neva Poling won a gift from the Ray Aviation Scholarship Fund, administered through the Chapter 1494 of the Experimental Aircraft Association. The scholarship will ensure she can complete all of her hours needed to train and then test for her pilot’s license.

“The trickiest part for me now is landing,” said Poling. “I’m still working on my flare.”

EAA Chapter President Hughes Collins said the EAA is able to give out a handful of scholarships each year for flight training to help young people. The Ray Aviation Scholarship is an especially generous award that can cover the 40 hours of flight training needed to achieve a license. People can apply each year for a chance at scholarships.

“She’s just an awesome young lady and I look for her to really go far in the future,” said Hughes Collins.

Scholarships cover time in the air with Morristown Flying Service instructors like Mari Bales, who spends regular time teaching Poling.

“I have students as young as 12,” said Bales. “And I recommend to their parents that they fly about once a month and no more than that.”

Bales said a student is then allowed to fly solo by age 16 and earn a pilot’s license at age 17. On a clear day at Morristown Regional Airport, the duo practice repeated takeoffs and landings.

“I have controls, then if anything goes wrong she just grabs it,” said Poling, who is nearly ready to obtain her license. The rising senior already works refueling planes at the airport. She hopes for a career in aviation.

“All I know is I want to fly,” said Poling. “I’m thinking about maybe flying commercially or transporting cargo.”

The first Saturday of each month at the airport is a breakfast hosted by EAA, where visitors can meet and greet experienced pilots. This is June 5 from 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

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