Engineering Apprentice Bethany Colburn with Maggie Appleton

An engineering apprentice from City of Wolverhampton College is preparing for the trip of a lifetime after being awarded a scholarship to study at an American flying school.

Twenty-one-year-old Bethany Colburn, an apprentice at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, will be spending five weeks at the American Aviation Academy in San Diego, California, after being presented with the Flying Scholarship for Disabled People (FSDP).

Bethany, who was born with mild cerebral palsy which affects her mobility, went through a tough recruitment process to win her spot in this year’s selection.  She will be jetting off in September and will enjoy thirty five flying hours and associated ground schools whilst in America and will be partnered with a fellow FSDP scholar.

Bethany said: “Despite having cerebral palsy, while in California my aim is to fly solo using the rudder pedals. I want to make my sponsors proud and show everyone, able bodied and disabled alike, that despite having limitations anyone can adapt and overcome given the right opportunities and belief.

“Thanks to FSDP having that belief in me, I am now on the most incredible life changing journey, that I hope will lead to more opportunities to progress my career in engineering and aviation.

“The scholarship has given me the boost, to continue the battle against perceptions and not give up the fight. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the team at the RAF Museum. The Apprentice programme has been a wonderful learning experience which has provided me with an excellent foundation for the future.”

RAF Museum CEO Maggie Appleton added: “We are extremely proud of Bethany for gaining her flying scholarship and happy to have contributed to her success story.”  

The 2015 scholars were officially announced at a special ceremony held at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) earlier this month.  The successful applicants were presented with their scholarship certificates by FSDP patron HRH Prince Faisal of Jordon and Honorary Air Commodore Sir Stephen Dalton.  Each scholar also received a Pooleys Private Pilot Licence starter kit containing all the essentials needed for their new venture, presented to them by Sebastian Pooley, Managing Director at Pooleys Flight Equipment Ltd.

Flying Scholarships for Disabled People (FSDP), is a charity that provides a ‘once in a lifetime’ challenge for disabled people to help them realise their abilities through the medium of learning to fly.  By the end of the training programme, some scholars are flying solo and many go on to achieve their Private Pilot’s Licence.  Students who impress their Chief Flying Instructor during a general handling flying test and who reach an acceptable standard of competence, compatible with the nature of their disability, are awarded the FSDP Wings.

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