Minnesota Aviation Trades Group Awards Scholarships

(L/R) Scholarship recipient, Jacob Martin of Elbow Lake, Minn.; Bill Mavencamp of St. Cloud Aviation, who served on the MATA Scholarship Committee as Chairman; and scholarship recipient, Ashley Tingley of St. Cloud, Minn.
Dave Weiman Photo

Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine June/July 2023 Digital Issue

Ryan Gaug, who was recently appointed the Director of Aeronautics with the Minnesota DOT Office of Aeronautics, was invited to introduce himself to members of the Minnesota Aviation Trades Association (MATA) at their annual meeting. Gaug encouraged members to contact his office for assistance and welcomed their ideas.
Dave Weiman Photo

ALEXANDRIA, MINN. – Members of the Minnesota Aviation Trades Association (MATA) awarded two $1,000.00 flight training scholarships at their annual meeting, April 27, 2023, during the Minnesota Airports Conference at the Arrowhead Resort & Conference Center in Alexandria, Minnesota. The recipients were Ashley Tingley of St. Cloud, Minn., and Jacob Martin of Elbow Lake, Minn.

In her essay submitted with her application, Ashley Tingley said: “One thing I have learned in this industry is that there are endless amounts of resources, tools, and people to help. I’m forever grateful for choosing this next step in my career, and I can’t wait to share what led me to this point.

“When I was growing up, my father told me, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I never understood this until my first job with a logistic company. I knew nothing about commercial airlines, logistics, and cargo. I was so excited when I confirmed the interview. Near the end of the interview, my manager looked up at me with a surprised look on his face and said, ‘My apologies… We have the wrong Ashley.’ I couldn’t believe what was happening. He paused and continued: ‘But we would love to welcome you to our team!’ This was officially the start of my aviation career, and I was ready.

“I enjoyed every second of the work – the people, the live animals, and everything in between. This was a new world of “organized chaos,” and I left with so much respect for this work. It taught me the importance of safety and relationships. Since then, I have been working with an amazing team here at St. Cloud Aviation. My goals are currently to work on my private pilot certificate and build hours. In the future, I would like to work for a company that can fly disabled veterans on hunting and fishing trips. I believe giving back to the Minnesota veterans will be extremely rewarding for those who served, and to their families.

“In summary, I’m very happy to be part of this industry that has led me to share these goals with you, and with so many others along the way. I hope my story can motivate others to continue to do what they love. Thank you!”

In his essay submitted with his application, Jacob Martin said: “In the summer of 2021, my fiancée, an Elbow Lake, Minnesota native, was finishing up her schooling at North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, North Dakota, and was looking for work in agriculture around her hometown, and we would soon be moving to the area. I had been working in kitchens since I was 17 and was looking for a career change, and this felt as good of a time as any. We came down for Flekkefest and she suggested I go check out the airport and talk to Joe LaRue of Prairie Air at Elbow Lake Municipal Airport (Y63) and see if I could get a job there. Nonsense! The only aviation-related thing I’ve done up until this point professionally was making $100 cheeseburgers for hungry pilots.

“They were offering airplane rides that day, so my fiancée and I decided to take one together. Neither of us had been in a general aviation aircraft before. We got the last spot on the list and waited about an hour watching all the planes takeoff and land, until it was finally our turn. Coming around the side of the hangar was a spiffy V35 Bonanza, and behind the yoke was none other than Joe LaRue, owner of Prairie Air. He dropped off his passengers and asked who his next passengers were going to be. It was me and my fiancée! She introduced me to Joe (whose families had gone to church together growing up) and he was excited to have us fly around with him. During the flight I chatted with Joe about how I had always wanted to fly, and he was more than happy to show me how his plane worked. After this first flight, I was hooked; I needed to fly… I needed to be in aviation.

“For the first time in my life, I decided to take a real leap and asked Joe if he needed more help around the airport. In September of 2021, I began work at Prairie Air as a general laborer, however, Joe let me know about an A&P apprenticeship program that would be opening up shortly. Loving to just be around airplanes and helicopters, I leaped at the opportunity.

“Even though I knew nothing about wrenching on things, let alone aircraft, Joe has given me the confidence to develop the skills I need to achieve that goal. With that confidence gained, I could finally tell myself, I could learn how to fly. In June 2022, I took my first flight lesson out of Alexandria Aviation at Chandler Field (KAXN) in Alexandria, Minnesota, and in September with 12 hours logged, I made my first solo flight.

“I wish to pursue my pilot’s license, not only for my own personal goals, but to help out the aviation business that helped me and help Minnesota aviation grow.

“Prairie Air’s goal is to be the number one service center for Robinson Helicopters in the United States, and we have customers from all over the nation. At Prairie Air, there is only one other pilot other than Joe, and with the frequency of field trips and how busy we all get, having another pilot available would be extremely beneficial, and a role I wish to take on. This, I believe, would help expand our business and name further and help put Minnesota on the map as a go-to destination for helicopter maintenance.

“I fly as much as I can, but between finances and with what I can manage to fit in between my work schedule and the tight availability of instructors and aircraft, I’ve only been able to fly a couple times a month. With this scholarship, it will majorly alleviate the financial stress side of things, make scheduling easier, help me get over the hurdle of finishing the last of my cross-country hours, and get me ready for my check-ride. I hope you consider me worthy of this scholarship.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: As a condition of the scholarship, both recipients are required to take flying lessons at a MATA-member flight school, which they are already doing.
For additional information about the Minnesota Aviation Trades Association, membership, and scholarship opportunities, go to: https://www.mata-online.org/

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