James C. Ray Flight Training Scholarship

Applications accepted the 1st – 7th of each month


The GIFT program is intended to provide a Glimpse Into Flight Training and is open to any student wishing to learn more about the basics of flight. The content of this program includes 5 hours of ground training, approximately 3 hours of simulator time, and actual flight time with a Certified Flight Instructor. Satisfactory completion of this course is a prerequisite for the James C. Ray Solo Scholarship unless the applicant has logged a minimum of 5 flight hours with a CFI. This scholarship will provide up to $1,000 for flight training and must be completed within 30 days of the confirmed start date.

The James C. Ray Scholarship Fund

The Central Florida Aerospace Academy Foundation, Inc. (CFAAF) is very proud to administer the James C. Ray Scholarship Fund.

James Ray was born in 1923 in San Francisco, California. Mr. Ray graduated from high school at the age of 17 and found his first employment as a steelworker, helping to construct several of San Francisco’s more prominent skyscrapers. On December 7, 1941, at the age of 18, James witnessed firsthand the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. He had traveled to Hawaii to work on a construction project for the Navy that was situated just a few hundred yards from the USS Arizona battleship as the attack unfolded…

Shortly thereafter, James enlisted in the US Army Air Corps and served as a B-17 command pilot in the 8th Air Force, 447th Bomb Group, which was stationed at Rattlesden, England. He flew a total of 30 missions, including raids on the Schweinfurt ball-bearing plants in Germany. He was also lead pilot on a D-Day attack on German headquarters in Normandy, France.

After the war, James flew his Cessna 170B on business trips and personal trips to 58 countries and to every Caribbean island with a landing strip. He has also flown extensively in North America as a rancher, oil and gas explorer and real estate developer, logging more than 3,500 hours in single-pilot Citations over a 29-year period.

Mr. Ray believes the disciplines he obtained during flight training truly helped him become the successful individual he is today. With the hope that other young people might benefit from this same type of activity and the positive, life-changing opportunities it presents, the James C. Ray Scholarship Fund was established to make financial support for flight training available to Polk County public and private high school students and equivalent home-schooled students residing in Polk County. The self-discipline required – and self-confidence developed – during the flight training experience will help mold a stronger, more successful individual.

Scroll to Top