Pathways Flight Academies

The Sky is the Limit!

How To Apply

Virginia Space Grant Consortium, in partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia, Averett University, Rick Aviation, and the Virginia Department of Aviation, is offers flight academies for selected high school students statewide in response to the looming national shortage of airline pilots and the growing need for aviation maintenance technicians and air traffic controllers.

This program allows students to explore aviation career fields while learning to fly! The Commonwealth of Virginia and the Virginia Department of Aviation provide funding that permits the Pathways Flight Academies program to be offered free of charge to participants.

Academies are offered during the summer for students who have shown a passion for their career aspirations in becoming commercial pilots as well as an interest in STEM.

Students admitted to this intensive program undertake ground school and flight training that can culminate in their first solo flight at the end of the academy. Students must make themselves fully available for all activities during the program session for full participation in the program.


Students must:

  • Have at least a 3.0 GPA
  • Be U.S. citizens
  • Be Virginia residents
  • Be 16 years old by the start of the academy
  • Be able to pass an FAA flight physical exam
  • Have transportation to the academy

How To Apply

The complete set of application materials must include:

1. On-Line Application
2. Copy of high school transcript submitted through the application system (unofficial)
3. Essay on application  (see detailed information below)
4. Completed Recommendation Forms submitted electronically by your references  (see detailed information below)

Essay Requirements

Please complete an essay using the following guidelines:
• 500-600 words
• Typed, 12-point standard font
• Submitted with your completed application

In your own words

1. Describe yourself to us – your academic strengths, interests, and personal characteristics.

2. What kind of extra-curricular activities or hobbies have you engaged in that are meaningful to you?

3. Tell us about any past aviation experiences and goals you have towards a career as a commercial pilot.

4. Explain why you wish to participate in a Pathways Flight Academy and how participating would impact your career goals as a commercial pilot.

*Note: This essay is a critical component in the selection process. It is your chance to present yourself to the selection panel. Answer all questions completely in your essay.

FAA Medical Exam (required after acceptance into the program)

If you are accepted into the program, you will need to get an FAA Medical Certificate. Students are required to pass at least a third-class medical exam. It is recommended you get a first-class medical certificate, if you plan to pursue a career in aviation. The cost for both medical exams is the same. Your certificate will need to be renewed after five years.

Once you receive acceptance into the Pathways Flight Academies, you can begin the process of acquiring your medical certificate through the FAA.

FAA information regarding the medical process can be found here.

You can search for an AME (aviation medical examiner) on this website.

Once a student finds an examiner near them, they can book an appointment and fill out the appropriate paperwork here.


Pathways Flight Academies is a FREE program for students with a strong interest in learning to fly!

Online Application

Applications: Open January

Contact: Ian Cawthray, Debbie Ross,