One man’s deferred dream of flight becomes an inspiration to give back to aspiring aviators

“I marvel at how fortunate I’ve been to have magical visions and make them come to life,” says the recreational pilot who will put aviation careers in reach for students in need through the Ken Jillson & Al Roberts Happy Trails Aviation Scholarship Endowment.

“The “full ride” for a Prescott Campus student is available for up to five years and covers tuition and fees, books, campus housing, meal plan (or equivalent off-campus) and flight training fees.

“As a fledgling pilot, a dressing down from the control tower led Jillson to backseat his aviation dreams. He focused on building a career as an entrepreneur, working alongside his partner, Al Roberts.

“In 2017, he rediscovered flying. “I had the resources and the time to study hard. I thought, come hell or high water, I’m going to finish my training and I’m going to have an Aviat Husky.”

As he pursued his own dream, he investigated Embry-Riddle. He approved of the stewardship he saw, with the use of 5 percent of the donation so the bulk of the gift grows through investment. He called the school to plan his estate gift.

He soon met Eagles during a recent visit to the Prescott Campus. “I love the idea of making a difference in a small community.”

“A bit of competitive spirit was also a factor. “I saw a press release about a big gift from Boeing in 2019, and I thought, ‘Mine’s going to be better!’”

“His gift creates possibilities. “If you dream it, you can make it happen. That is the gift that I’m sharing. If you think you can fly, if you want to become an airline pilot or a corporate pilot, you can do it. That Happy Trails Scholarship is magic that will open doors that may appear shut.”