By Erika Khair
Student Writer, EKU Communications & Marketing
Eastern Kentucky University aviation major Matt Jones loves taking to the air and sharing his adventures with people on the ground.
The sophomore from Louisville was recently awarded the Globalair.com Calvin L. Carrithers Aviation Scholarship for the second consecutive year. The scholarship, which comes with a $1,000 award, is given to only four full-time aviation students nationwide.
The scholarship was created last year and advertised to a smaller audience as part of a trial run. Jones, along with two other EKU students, was among the four winners. This year, the scholarship was advertised nationally, and Jones won again, edging out a much larger pool of applicants.
In receiving the scholarship, winners agree to create a blog for the entire school year and make weekly posts. Jones’ blog, chasingfl180.wordpress.com, is entering its second year and provides a place for him to share experiences and advice as an aviation student.
“It can be a great log for my previous training,” Jones said. “It’s very neat to be able to look back and read from your firsthand account and re-live your training through the many phases of flight training. It can be a great way to improve writing as well, because I have to put out creative content each week that I think others will enjoy reading.”
Jones added that running a blog is a good way to get his name out and make contacts. After a year of writing, he said he’s seen an increase in page hits and recognition.
He also praises the efforts of EKU’s aviation program to help students make career connections. As a sophomore, Jones is already talking to a regional airline, ExpressJet, and plans to interview and test with them in the spring. He received this opportunity after the University hosted representatives from ExpressJet and other airlines on campus last spring.
Jones grew up wanting to fly planes and has been a private pilot since July 2014. His house in Louisville was on the final approach planes took to one the major runways at Louisville’s Standiford Field Airport, and as he watched the jets coming in, he fell in love with the idea of flying. In high school, he won an essay contest that allowed him to take three free flying lessons and, as he put it, he was hooked. He worked his way through more flying lessons with a job at McDonald’s before coming to EKU.
He chose EKU for its “1,000-hour power” certificate, which allows students to apply for the restricted Airline Transport Pilot authorization upon graduating from the program and reaching 1,000 flight hours. In other programs, students have to wait until they have 1,500 total aircraft hours before they can apply for the authorization, which allows to pilots to fly with airlines.
Jones said the University’s aviation program has benefitted him tremendously so far by making him a more disciplined and well-rounded pilot. He credits the many instructors with whom he’s worked, all with different personalities and styles, for helping him reach this point.
His ultimate career goal is work for a big airline like UPS. He’d also like to work as a flight instructor upon graduation and for smaller airlines such as ExpressJet as he builds enough experience for his dream job.
Jones also wants to stay involved in the aviation community through organizations and events, and one day, after retirement, he’d like to build his own airplane.
It’s all to keep him in the air.
“I love experiencing views that few others get to view on a regular basis,” Jones said. “Whenever I have flown next to clouds, and they are just fixed in the sky right next to you, it’s a magical feeling. I feel extremely lucky to participate in something so breathtaking every time I go up.”
For more information about EKU’s Aviation Program, visit aviation.eku.edu.