Sentimental Journey Fly-In offers scholarship

LOCK HAVEN — In March of 2017, the first scholarship in honor of Leah Jones, a former Piper manufacturing employee, ferry pilot and longtime Sentimental Journey Fly-In attendee, was awarded.

This year, the third annual scholarship for $1,000 will be awarded to a high school senior who plans to go into the field of aviation upon graduation or desires to learn how to fly a plane.

The Fly-In, which celebrates Piper Aircraft Corporation’s heritage in Lock Haven, established the scholarship, along with Sentimental Journey member and fly-in attendee Amy Gesch.

The scholarship is open to high school seniors who are going into the field of aviation upon graduation, as well as any high school student age 15 or older who is interested in learning to fly an aircraft. To qualify, they must either be a resident of Pennsylvania, or be a member/child or grandchild of a member of Sentimental Journey to Cub Haven, and reside in the U.S.

“Celebrating and preserving Piper’s history in Lock Haven is the purpose behind the fly-in,” commented Cal Arter, president of Sentimental Journey. “But part of history is that it doesn’t stop being made-the story is being written every day. Even though Piper no longer has facilities in Lock Haven, we have a rich history and we feel it’s only right to make sure tomorrow’s history is as rich as today’s. There’s no better way to do that than to invest in the pilots and mechanics of tomorrow.”

Ed Watson, vice president of Sentimental Journey, added, “Leah Jones has been one of our favorite fly-in visitors for years. She lights up like a light bulb when she gets to see young people at the fly-in and when she sees her beloved Cubs come home. She’s an inspiration to us all, and we feel it is a perfect fit to establish this scholarship in her honor.”

Leah Jones, who went by the name Mae Coady, (her middle and maiden names), worked at Piper Aircraft in Lock Haven from 1946-1951. During her time there, she worked in final assembly and ferried dozens of airplanes. She and a group of other Piper ferry pilots, including Bill Sparks, whose book she has brought to the fly-in for years, referred to themselves as the “Herd o’ Turtles,” referencing the modest cruise speeds of the humble Cubs Piper produced at the time.

The first recipient of this scholarship was Tyler Rispoli, of Altoona Area High School. Leah Jones surprised Tyler by personally presenting the award to him at Sentimental Journey’s award banquet, held on June 24, 2017. Tyler is attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute.

The second annual scholarship was awarded to Olivia Ackley, who attended The Grier School in Tyrone. Olivia has hopes of being an Aviation Medical Examiner and flight instructor. Leah surprised Olivia as well, by having the honor of presenting her with the award.

Interested applicants should call 570-893-4200 or email j3cub@kcnet.org. Applications are due on or before May 31, 2019.

Sentimental Journey is a non-profit organization. Anyone interested in donating to this scholarship, contact us at the above phone number.