Flying Musicians Combine Music, Aviation, and Scholarships!

Flying Musicians Combine Music, Aviation, and Scholarships!

By Len Assante, Flying Musicians Association, Inc., Vol State

Update: Congratulations to 2016 FMA Solo Winner Sarah Coffelt of Tullahoma, Tennessee, who will be entering her senior year of high school as a member of the Tullahoma Band, under the direction of NAfME member Martin D. McFarlane

2016 FMA Solo Winner Sarah Coffelt
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2016 FMA Solo Winner Sarah Coffelt

Musicians come from all walks of life and enjoy a range of careers. However, some of those options hit closer to home than others. For example, did you know that many skills are held in common between musicians and pilots? Paying attention to a complex environment, reacting to unusual occurrences, utilizing complex inputs and resources, and managing several tasks simultaneously are just some of the skills held by both.

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Flying Musicians Association (FMA) recognizes this and has developed a program for young musicians who want to be pilots, the FMA Solo Program / Scholarship Award. Lucky recipients receive scholarships that will pay for their primary flight training, through their first solo. In cooperation with FMA’s corporate members and sponsors nationwide, this program funds juniors or seniors in high school who have been nominated by their band/music director.

Just ask Drew Medina of Vero Beach, Florida, a senior in the Vero Beach High School Jazz, Symphonic, and Marching Bands. Drew has achieved his goal of successfully completing his first solo flight thanks to the scholarship. Drew’s flight instructor, Buddy Sessoms said, “Drew is quiet, focused, driven, and definitely very diligent.” Sessoms was impressed, because “his school time is pretty booked. Kids, especially seniors nowadays have absolutely no free time. For someone to do this during the school year and still have high academic accomplishment, he’s really remarkable. You [FMA] picked a really good candidate. He loves music, and he loves flying.”

FMA Scholarship Recipient Drew Medina

The application process is simple. An aviation-enthusiastic junior or senior who is a high school band member is screened and then partnered, through FMA, with a local flight school in our network. These schools specialize in training beginning pilots and have joined the FMA Bandwagon.

When the student has passed the flight physical, ab initio training takes the student through first solo. Then, the participating flight school will be reimbursed by FMA for up to fifteen hours of ground and dual instruction provided.

FMA corporate members and sponsors will also assist the student with free and reduced-cost training materials. For example, Sporty’s Pilot Shop, a leading provider of pilot supplies and flight training, has committed to donating their Learn to Fly courses.

For details and application materials, high school band directors should contact or download the FMA Solo Packet FMA website. Also, checkout the progress of recipients as they blog about their experience at The deadline for nominations from band directors is January 31, 2016.

About the Flying Musicians Association, Inc:

The Flying Musicians Association (FMA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization of pilots who are musicians, spanning the globe, proficiency levels and genres. The goal is to share our passions in order to inspire, educate, and encourage others by creating enthusiasm and promoting personal growth in aviation and music. Pilot Musicians sharing their passion while encouraging and educating youth (& adults) in the science and art of aeronautics and music.” More:

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The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.