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Cosford Museum Apprentice jets off for stateside scholarship

Published on: 29 July 2015

An Apprentice at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford has been awarded a scholarship with the Flying Scholarship for Disabled People (FSDP).

The 2015 scholars were officially announced at a special ceremony held at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) earlier this month. The successful applicants were presented with their scholarship certificates by FSDP patron HRH Prince Faisal of Jordon and Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Sir Andrew Pulford. Each scholar also received a Pooleys Private Pilot Licence starter kit containing all the essentials needed for their new venture, presented to them by Sebastian Pooley, Managing Director at Pooleys Flight Equipment Ltd.

Bethany and her fellow scholar being presented with their scholarship certificates by FSDP patron HRH Prince Faisal of Jordon and Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Sir Andrew Pulford

Museum Apprentice Bethany Colburn, aged 21 from Albrighton, was selected from a panel of judges as their top scholar and will have the life changing opportunity of spending five weeks at the American Aviation Academy in San Diego, California. Bethany will be jetting off in September and will enjoy thirty five flying hours and associated ground schools whilst in America and will be partnered with a fellow FSDP scholar.

Bethany, who was born with mild cerebral palsy which affects her mobility, went through a tough recruitment process to win her spot in this year’s selection. Following an initial application, each applicant was assessed by a team of experienced adjudicators consisting of FSDP Trustees and supporters at a pre selection board meeting. The top twenty four candidates then went forward to the selection stage at RAF Cranwell in a four day process, which included; meeting with Trustees and former FSDP scholars, now acting as mentors, before being interviewed and undergoing a medical assessment to ensure they are fit enough to fly.

Flying Scholarships for Disabled People (FSDP), is a charity that provides a ‘once in a lifetime’ challenge for disabled people to help them realise their abilities through the medium of learning to fly. By the end of the training programme, some scholars are flying solo and many go on to achieve their Private Pilot’s Licence. Students who impress their Chief Flying Instructor during a general handling flying test and who reach an acceptable standard of competence, compatible with the nature of their disability, are awarded the FSDP Wings.

The FSDP is in memory of Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader KBE DSO and Bar DFC and Bar DL who, after losing both his legs in a flying accident, went on to achieve fame in World War Two as a fighter pilot. Following his death in 1982, organisers of the Royal International Air Tattoo introduced Flying Scholarships for Disabled People to continue Bader’s indomitable spirit. Since then, nearly 400 disabled people have been awarded scholarships.

RAF Museum Apprentice, Bethany Colburn said:
“Despite having cerebral palsy, while in California my aim is to fly solo using the rudder pedals! I want to make my sponsors proud and show everyone, able bodied and disabled alike; that despite having limitations anyone can adapt and overcome given the right opportunities and belief. Thanks to FSDP having that belief in me, I am now on the most incredible life changing journey; that I hope will lead to more opportunities to progress my career in engineering and aviation. The scholarship has given me the boost, to continue the battle against perceptions and not give up the fight. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the team at the RAF Museum. The Apprentice Scheme has been a wonderful learning experience which has provided me with an excellent foundation for the future.”

RAF Museum CEO Maggie Appleton said:
“The RAF Museum’s apprentice scheme was introduced over ten years ago with a vision of preserving heritage aviation skills. Since then, the scheme and its participants have gone from strength to strength; winning awards and accolades and our conservation centre is now listed as one of the country’s Top 100 Apprentice Employers in the UK. We are extremely proud of Bethany for gaining her flying scholarship and happy to have contributed to her success story.”

RAF Museum Apprentice Bethany Colburn with RAF Museum CEO Maggie Appleton Bethany celebrating her scholarship with her family

Now at the end of her four year Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Engineering Manufacture and having achieved her Level 3 NVQ Extended Diploma in Fabrication – Sheet Metalworking; Bethany hopes that the skills and experience she has gained at the RAF Museum, combined with the flying scholarship are the perfect platforms into a long and successful career in aviation engineering.

More information on the FSDP can be found on their website.

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