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Youth/Junior Scholarships

Soaring as a sport fosters the best in young adults. Adding young pilots to our membership has manifold benefits. The SSA is proud to sponsor and support youth programs and their activities. The material below is also available in Slide Show format for your meetings and outreach presentations.

Photo #14191 | SSA Youth/Junior ComYour SSA YOUTH/JUNIOR COMMITTEE oversees a full range of yearly scholarships to support the following goals:

    • Recruit. Inform youth at large about soaring and encourage them to join SSA.
    • Educate. Develop soaring skills among young SSA members.
    • Organize. Make young members feel part of SSA and encourage their activity.
    • Recognize. Publicize the achievements of young SSA members.


    • CADET (June 30). 
      Up to five $750 for learning to fly gliders. Desire award.
      1930 Cadet gliderThe anchor program, the one that addresses the very first goal, is the Cadet Youth Flight Scholarship for would-be-pilots ages 13 to 22. Preferably, these will not be SSA members nor will they have any substantial experience with soaring. In essence, it is an excuse for Clubs and FBOs to contact local youth and invite them out to the glider field to see what we do. The incentive--to both the kids and the Club/FBO--is a $750 flight credit. Winners visit a glider field to have an application witnessed, make a convincing case for their desire to fly, write a creative essay about soaring, and state their financial need. In 1995, over one hundred kids wrote SSA for info on this program, two dozen thought about soaring long enough to write an essay, and half of those joined us as SSA Youth members. Funding for the Cadet program was initiated by Cadet designer and Hall-of-Famer Dr. Frank Gross, who matched gifts by 60 other SSA donors totaling $20,000 by December 1996. Additional funding would help make additional, and perhaps larger awards, available.  Details, a promotional poster, and a downloadable application form are at Cadet Youth Flight Scholarship. 
      Up to five $2,000 awards for primary training, pre-solo to solo and beyond.  Details and application for are available at Dennis Purduski Flight Training Scholarship.
    • SSA Flight Training Scholarhips (March 31) Up to five $2,000 awards for primary training, pre-solo, and post-solo student glider pilots to solo and rating.  Description and application form are available at SSA Flight Training Scholarship.
    • STOFFEL FLIGHT TRAINING SCHOLARSHIP Awards for primary training, pre-solo and post-solo student pilots to solo and rating. More information and application.
    • Towing out the glidersBULTMAN (March 31). 
      Up to two $1000 for soaring progress. Service award.
      This SSA award is geared to goals 2 and 3 and member retention, for post-solo soaring by SSA members ages 14 to 22. Preferably chasing badges, going to wave camps, entering contests, and training. This is a "worker" award for a youngster who has made essential contributions to a Club or FBO and who may be too financially strapped to buy tows just for fun. Jane & Elizabeth Bultman set up this award to honor their late husband and father, Richard, an ex-USAF RF-101, airline captain and tow pilot at Bermuda High Soaring School. It serves to remind us of the many friends on the ground we rely on every time we fly. To apply, a sponsoring soaring group needs to send nominating evidence and letters of recommendation to SSA, being sure to document the Club or FBO service of the and their plans to use the funds for soaring. Soaring experience or achievement are not criteria, nor are academics.  Details and a downloadable application form are at Bultman Youth Flight Scholarship.
    • SSA Junior CFI-G Fight Training Scholarship (March 31) Up to two $2,000 scholarships for qualified Juniors, 17 - 24 years, to complete CFI-G training and qualification.  Application.
    • Spirit of Dr. John H. Campbell Junior CFI-G Scholarship (September 30) Up to $2,000 for a qualified Junior, 17 - 24 years, to complete CFI-G training and qualifications.  Application.


    • Paul and Ken Kolstad 1966KOLSTAD (September 30).
      $5,000 for College expenses. Achievement award.
      SSA's most prestigious youth award, meeting goal number 4, this has been for 42 years and 64 awards the capstone to teenage years spent in pursuit of soaring. It honors the memory of Paul Kolstad, who had earned the FAI Gold Badge with two diamonds by age 15. To be eligible for this grant for academic studies, pilots must be USA Citizen SSA members ages 14 to 24 and have earned the FAI Silver Badge or the SSA Century I youth award. Scholarship winners complete an application form available from the SSA office (and downloadable from the web), including a summary of cross-country flights and education plans, and documentation of their service and character from club members. Thanks to Colorado Soaring Association, Black Forest Soaring Society, and Texas Soaring Association for outstanding support of this award -- frequently, $1,000 got collected at a cook-out or contest. Thanks also to Chris Woods for donating sales income from the Hilton Cup DVDs! Details and a downloadable application form are at Kolstad Junior Soaring Awards. 


The SSA has signed partnership agreements with several aviation youth groups, such as the ones displayed below.

    • CAP Seal CIVIL AIR PATROL [SSA Partner].
      This USAF auxiliary organization caters to aerospace-minded youth ages 12 to 21. During the summer, the joint SSA-CAP glider program runs Flight Academies nationwide with systematic flight training, following 5 free glider orientation rides available year round to all CAP cadets under 18. Since the 1996 signing of the SSA and CAP agreement, CAP cadets represent the largest segment of the SSA's growing Youth membership. This Memorandum of Agreement reviewed, updated and renewed in 2018. Experienced glider pilots are desired to mentor CAP cadets in soaring (CAP membership required, but no commitment to other CAP missions). See CIVIL AIR PATROL.


    • ACADEMY OF MODEL AERONAUTICS [SSA Partner].Photo #13701 | AMA Logo
      Modelling is a great indicator of success in youth showing an interest in aviation.  SSA and AMA have partnered to share in providing opportunities for youth in aviation education and experiences through free digital memberships and scholarships.  See AMA YOUTH


    • Photo #14272 | Young Eagle LogoEAA YOUNG EAGLES [SSA Partner, Historical].Starting in 1992, this grass-roots flying organization arranged orientation flights for 1 million young people in time for the December 17, 2003 centennial of airplane flight. SSA members who met EAA's easy guidelines added thousands to the total in gliders. EAA membership is now required to enroll Young Eagles.  The 2 millionth Young Eagle was flown in 2016. See EAA YOUNG EAGLES

Our own national SSA programs include:

    • SSA Cadet Introductory Membership (10 - 18) Youth are encouraged to discover soaring through this free membership in the SSA.  This includes digital issues of Soaring Magazine, access to all areas of the SSA web site (including the Soaring Magazine archive since 1937), and a Youth and Junior oriented electronic newsletter. Informational PDF. For more information and membership application, visit https://cadet.ssa.org.
    • JUNIOR SOARING TEAM (FAI under-26 World Team)
      USA Junior Team 1997 The Team is chosen every two years by the SSA USA Team Committee in consultation with the SSA Youth Committee. Usually, final selection is made at the SSA Convention preceding the next World Junior Gliding Championships. Items considered include primarily Junior Nationals performance (consists of "any Nationals" but maybe soon pure Junior also), SSA Contest Ranking, total glider hours and type experience, and desire to contribute to the team effort. An absolute minimum requirement is to have flown at least one SSA-sanctioned contest, which in turn requires an FAI Silver distance leg, an FAA private license, and so on. It adds up to a lot of experience at a fast-paced time of life, ages 14 to 25. 
      A pin and patch, featuring a white glider and cumulus on a blue background, are awarded to soaring pilots who are between the ages of 14 and 24 (inclusive) and who complete a soaring flight of: 100 km (Century I), 200 km (Century II), 300 km (Century III), 500km (Century V), and 1000km (Century X). Send application and documentation for validation to SSA as if for an FAI Badge. Only one pin/patch set is awarded per flight submitted. Young pilots also qualify to apply for the Kolstad Scholarship by earning one of the Century Awards.


      Junior Diploma At the State level, a special SSA record category is available to young pilots. As of January 1, 2006, "Junior" category includes pilots and flight crews whose 25th birthday occurs on or after January 1 in the calendar year during which the record flight is made. In prior years, the age limit had been 21 and many records from the ca 1970 youth boom era are still waiting to be beaten.


Photo #14191 | SSA Youth/Junior Com

Several SSA Affiliate and Division Members also run excellent programs designed to encourage young people to discover and progress in the sport, such as:


    • Women Soaring Pilots Association logoSKY GHOST Grant (WSPA, March 15)
      $750 for use at any glider operation. Available to a female student pilot under the age of 25 for expenses related to glider instruction toward obtaining a private pilot license in gliders. Applicant must be a member of SSA and the Women Soaring Pilots Association. A completed application form and brief essay are required. Winner will be notified by mail. Moneys will be paid directly to the glider operation. WOMEN SOARING PILOTS ORGANIZATION.


    • BRIEGLEB Scholarship (WSPA, $750 for use at the Women's Soaring Seminar. This award is given to a female student glider pilot of any age. The money is to be used for flying expenses during the seminar. The applicant must be a member of SSA and the Women Soaring Pilots Association. A completed application form and brief essay are required. Winner will be notified prior to the seminar. The Women's Soaring Seminar is held every summer at a soaring location in the USA. The seminars offer lectures, flight instruction, and checkouts in a variety of gliders as well as a supportive environment for beginning pilots. WOMEN SOARING PILOTS ORGANIZATION.


    • Mid Kolstad Scholarship (WSPA March 15)
      A student glider pilot or a licensed airplane pilot over the age of 25 is eligible for the Mid Kolstad Scholarship of $1500 to help pay expenses toward obtaining a Private Glider License or add-on rating.  WOMEN SOARING PILOTS ORGANIZATION.


Your gifts are welcome at any time to extend and enlarge these national programs. All the funds will put your tax-deductible contributions to work with youth right away. For programs directly administered by SSA, be sure to note the name of the fund on your letter or check [e.g. Kolstad, Bultman, Cadet, Junior Team, or Eagle/Youth Fund]. 2016 marked the 50th year since the passing of 15-year-old 2-Diamond pilot Paul Kolstad and the 50th award of the college scholarship that anchored our financial support for new generations. Local groups had great fun raising funds in the spirit of the longtime Labor Day chicken barbecue started by Ken Kolstad, who passed himself in June 2007 at age 96 (!). How about passing the hat at your event, for your favorite cause, now?

Please contact the SSA Youth/Junior Committee if you could help set up more SSA programs. We are especially interested in the middle ground between CADET and KOLSTAD, to give junior SSA members a boost in chasing badges, records, contests, cross-country soaring, and other advanced delights of the sport.

Finally, Numerous SSA Chapters and Commercial Operators run their own soaring camps, youth scholarships, and line-crew work programs. Please contact SSA to add to or correct our current DIRECTORY OF YOUTH CAMPS or DIRECTORY OF YOUTH GRANTSSSA Youth Opportunities 2020.

Posted: 1/11/2021