On March 29, 16-year-old Molly Prince received the first check for her EAA Chapter 1241 youth flying scholarship at Marathon Airport. For the Keys Weekly photo opp, she wore mirrored aviator sunglasses while flight instructor Sol Bradman handed her a check and gave a thumbs-up, in true Top Gun style.

All we needed was Maverick and Ice Man in flight suits to saunter on by, and the scene would have been perfect.

But it’s perfect enough for Prince. “I feel really blessed,” Prince told Keys Weekly. “It’s really cool. Especially being one of the few women in the field.”

The Experimental Aircraft Association’s Chapter 1241 in Marathon is devoted to promoting the spirit of aviation to the community. To that end, EAA vice president and youth coordinator Fred Fink helps give out $3,000 scholarships to Keys youth like Prince who would like to fly. He says attaining a pilot’s license costs about $10,000, so the scholarship would cover a part of that. About five local youths, including Prince, are currently pursuing a pilot’s license with the chapter’s help. The scholarships are funded by donations to the chapter.

“It takes six months to a year to get a license, depending how much time the scholarship ward devotes to flying,” said Fink. “We were looking for a solid academic background and motivation to learn to fly. It requires stick-to-it-tiveness. Molly is good academically and motivated, and most importantly, very interested in aviation. She’s a good kid.”

Prince plays basketball at Marathon High School and just toured college campuses on her spring break. One school she is interested in is Southeastern University, which has both aviation and basketball programs. So far, she has taken two hours’ worth of flight lessons. She loved them, and said she wasn’t scared a bit. 

“She’s been fearless her whole life,” said her grandmother, Beverly Patterson. “She white-water rafted in the Amazon when she was 8.” On March 29, Patterson, along with Prince’s parents, Christina and Matthew, watched Prince get the scholarship check. 

“We’re so thankful to the EAA for this opportunity,” said Matthew Prince.

Sol Bradman runs Florida Keys Flight Academy, which will be giving Prince lessons. “She’s great. Talented and smart,” he said. “There will be no issues at all.”

For more information about these scholarships or to donate to the EAA’s scholarship fund, call Fred Fink at 901-485-0181 or email [email protected]

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