St. Cloud State Graduate Receives 2017 MATA Scholarship

Published in Midwest Flyer – December 2017/January 2018 issue

ST. CLOUD, MINN. – A graduate of St. Cloud State University and a student pilot at Wright Aero, Gjertine Maj Bagent, has received the 2017 Minnesota Aviation Trades Association Scholarship. Bagent is using the money to help pay for Certified Flight Instructor training at Wright Aero at St. Cloud Regional Airport (KSTC). She holds a Private Pilot Certificate and an Instrument Rating, and is currently working on her Commercial Pilot Certificate. Bagent earned her Bachelor’s Degree at St. Cloud State University.

In her application for the scholarship, Bagent wrote the following essay:

I have been fascinated with the idea of flying ever since I was a little girl listening to my “Grandpa Roy” tell stories about flying. My grandpa was a fighter pilot in World War II in the Beagle Squadron and flew P51D Mustangs. Although he never talked much about all his buddies who died in battle, nor how hard being in a war must have been, he mostly focused on funny stories and stories about flying. He told me how he and his buddies would play tag in the clouds (I have no idea how you would do this, nor do I think it’s a safe way to fly in and out of clouds), about strafing sheep and having the sheep herder shake his cane at him, as well as escorting bombers. Whenever he talked about flying, you would see his smile lines grow deeper and a twinkle in his eyes. Even though my grandpa didn’t fly much after the war, I could see there was something magical in flying, something he loved and was passionate about, something freeing…it said something to me about the human spirit.

We, as humans, are inspired by greatness, and my grandpa was great to me; he was my hero. And listening to him tell his stories of flight, I fell in love with the idea of flying before I ever set foot in a plane.

We went to my first air show in August 2011 in Willmar, Minnesota. I was 16. There I was amazed by the aerobatics and thrilled to be there with my grandpa who said he had done all of what we saw and more. After the air show, Experimental Aircraft Association members gave Young Eagles rides and my Grandpa Roy told me that he would wait for me if I wanted to go for a ride. I was so excited I could barely wait. In the time, while I was waiting, grandpa came back with a Mountain Dew and told me he got it for himself, but he couldn’t drink it, so I should have it. He had found my second cousin, Ted, who was a pilot, and the grandson of my grandpa’s brother, “Uncle Dick,” as we affectionately referred to him. Uncle Dick was a navigator during World War II.

Finally, the moment had come…it was my turn to ride in a plane. I got bumped up because there were no other single riders, so I got to skip up through about two-thirds of the line. I rode with a mother and her young child. The pilot was a silver haired gentleman and he asked me if I wanted to wear the headset so he could explain to me what he was doing after showing me how to buckle up. I told him that would be great and I put the headset on. He walked me through taxiing, takeoff and when he got to around 2000 ft. AGL, he asked me if I wanted to take over the controls. I was so excited to fly a plane, and I thought surely that this was the best day of my life! The pilot showed me that by pushing forward on the yoke, you go down, and by pulling back, you go up.

I also remember the pilot showing me the rudder pedals, and he had me talk on the headset with him. He asked me if I wanted to land and I declined to do so out of fear, but he still explained what he was doing as he was coming in to land. By the time we landed, I told my grandpa that I wanted to be a pilot someday and he told me that I should.

I decided to become a pilot shortly after Grandpa Roy passed away. I always had dreams about flying growing up and I felt like I wanted to share something with him. I did my Private Pilot training down at Holman Field in St. Paul, first with Wings, and finished up with Twin Cities Aviation. After my Private Pilot Certificate, I started my Bachelor’s Degree at St. Cloud State University and worked on my Instrument training. I also received financial aid to complete my Commercial Pilot Certificate, which has helped me out tremendously.

My short-term goal is to finish my Commercial Pilot Certificate, then get my Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) Certificate. My long-term goal is to fly for some non-profit organization like the Red Cross, Doctors or Engineers Without Borders, or for disaster relief. But in order to get there, I want to work as a flight instructor and get my multi-engine rating, then complete mountain training and learn to fly internationally.

Minnesota Aviation Trades Association

The Minnesota Aviation Trades Association (MATA) strives to be the voice of the Minnesota aviation industry. Through its board of directors, conferences, and legal and lobbying services, MATA aims to assist its members in building ethical, strong, and competitive aviation businesses. Through scholarships, MATA helps to create tomorrow’s aviation professionals. Above all else, MATA earnestly desires to see general aviation continue to grow – locally, statewide, and nationally.

In an effort to encourage an interest in flying and support the Minnesota aviation community, MATA awards a $2,000 scholarship each year. Scholarship applicants are reviewed by the MATA Scholarship Committee. Candidate requirements are as follows:

• Applicant must be currently enrolled in a flight training curriculum at a Minnesota flight school that is a member of MATA.

• The applicant must write a 1-2-page essay on why he/she wants to learn to fly or continue their training.

All completed materials must be received by June 30th at mnavtrades@gmail.com.

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