Pilots who owe their involvement in aviation to Betty
Testimonials From Betty’s Fliers
“My name is Matt Stege and I won the Betty Pfister scholarship in high school and it forever changed my life.
After barely getting through middle school in both grades and discipline, I arrived in high school with a loss of purpose and direction. Sure I played sports, but scholastically I had no motivation or desire. And that lack of motivation was showing in my grades as I was coming home with C’s and a dismal GPA.
That all changed on my 14th birthday, when my parents gave me an introductory flight lesson in a Cessna 172 at the aspen airport. I remember that day like it was yesterday; the sound of the engine starting and listening to air traffic control. I remember the exhilarating feeling of the plane lifting off the ground, and the true sense of freedom flying an airplane. It was the biggest spark of passion and excitement you could give a 14 year old.
My life has never been the same. I was immediately hooked and as Leonardo da Vinci said, ”Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return”.
I finally found a purpose and passion! I immediately started working at Aspen Base Operations, the local FBO at the time, to be closer to aviation and to start working my way into the industry. But even with a discount on flight lessons for working there, I could not afford to fly.
Then came the Betty Pfister Scholarship. When I first heard about it, I thought people were joking and that I didn’t stand a chance at winning it. But my parents convinced me to apply and thankfully I won one of the scholarships. That gave me the opportunity to pursue my ultimate dream. I started flying regularly and the scholarship paid my way to solo my first airplane at 16.
I continued to follow my dream, getting my private pilots license, then attending an aeronautical university where I finished my training. After flight instructing out of the Aspen airport, I was hired by a regional airline. I am now a pilot for a major airline flying internationally and loving every minute of it.
I am truly grateful for the Betty Pfister scholarship and the incredible opportunity it provided me. It lit the spark a 14 year old needed to accomplish his dream.”
“At 17 years old, in 2000, I received the Betty Pfister scholarship for flight lessons through a solo flight, and almost twenty years later, much of my personal life and career revolves around aviation.
The scholarship was the push that jump-started my dreams of flying and being an aerospace engineer. My mother’s family has a history of aviation, with a Grandfather who was a WWII Navy Pilot Instructor and then a crop duster, an Uncle who was an F-16 fighter pilot and Delta pilot, and a cousin who was an Air Force pilot. I grew up getting rides in little 2-seat airplanes, so the seed was planted very young, but our family was less aviation centric and getting a Private Pilot’s in Aspen seemed daunting.
The scholarship allowed me to pursue it as a catalyst both motivationally and financially. I continued on after the scholarship to get the PPL, and then went to college at Stanford University to study aerospace engineering. Soon after, I went to the renowned experiment airplane design shop, Scaled Composites, as an engineer to design experimental aircraft under Burt Rutan, and then onto SpaceX to design rockets.
I am considering rejoining the aviation world again soon in the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) space, so may be back in the aviation fold full time, and hope I can make my own lasting impact. I have no doubt that this scholarship played a large roll in kicking off my career in aerospace, and am always grateful for it.”
— Jamie Gull