2012 Annual Foundation Update

Dec 17, 2012   //   by admin   //   News and Events  //  No Comments

Connor Burton Aviation Foundation Annual Update

From:  Jan Burton

Date:  12.15.12

We’ve come a long way since many of you contributed to Connor’s Memorial Fund in the Fall of 2008.  The intent then was to sponsor a couple of scholarships at Kansas State’s Aviation Program, and 37 of you contributed to honor Connor’s memory.

With your support, I set up the “Foundation”, and we sponsored 3 juniors in the Professional Pilot program, all who went on to graduate and get important jobs. Brendan Compton was employed by Hawker Beechcraft as a test pilot and has now joined Dynamic Aviation as an”Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance” pilot, now in action in Afghanistan. Josh Stacey was accepted into the coveted Marine Corps Pilot training program in Florida, where they will invest $1M in his further training.

Since then, the momentum has continued to build, and my original idea has expanded greatly to address the needs andthe desire of aviation students (more on that later).  More of my friends and family have become aware of this program, and some are becoming believers and very important donors!

Summarizing the past 4 years:


Dollars:  $334,000

# of Donors: 55 of all types (a couple counts for 1 donor)

•44 individuals/or couples
•5 Trusts
•2 Foundations
•4 Companies
•7 repeat donations (thank you!)

Money used for

Scholarships: $267,000 (89%)

•25 Connor Burton Scholars, at $5000/year for 2 years
•50 Summer Scholarships, averaging $3000 each
•45 Flight Simulator Scholarships: $22,000

Collegiate Flight Team and Women’s Air Race Classic:$30,000 (10%)

Student Recruitment: $3500 (1%)

In all, we’ve helped more than 200 students!

For 2012, I’d like to highlight a few very special things:

•We sponsored the second year of a Summer Aviation Program, helping 27 students gain certifications and ratings over the summer through $84,000 of scholarships.
•The first Corporate internship was set up, thanks to Denise Wilson at Desert Jet in Southern California and to my sister and her husband, Conni and Mike Williams, who kindly made their home available for housing. Nicole Lordemann, Kansas State Junior, received this summer internship, and she was able to work in every department of a thriving charter company.  Since then, she received a $5000 NBAA Alan Conklin Business Aviation Management scholarship, partially as a result of this internship.
•The first donation came from outside the circle of “friends and family” when Jay Longinaker and his wife, graduate of the K-State’s Agriculture School and a pilot, donated after hearing about K-State’s Aviation program.
•After hiring a K-State graduate as my Corporate Pilot (an outstanding young man named Robbie Moon), we were able to put 4 students through Cirrus Certification and help with the K-State Mountain Flying course in Colorado.
•Finally, and perhaps most meaningfully, two current students, Nicole Lordemann and Tonya Hodson, “paid forward” by donating $300 back to the Foundation, in appreciation for the support they received for the Women’s Air Race.  This is the first time a student has given back, and I’m hopeful it will become a trend.(Note: these women were also recognized in front of 55,000 screaming fans during the K-State vs. Oklahoma State football game for their 2nd place collegiate finish in the 2012 Women’s Air Race Classic).

Now, a word about K-State’s Aviation Program: they have now transitioned to a new Development Director, Amy Cole, and a new Dean and CEO of the Salina campus, Verna Fitzsimmons. I was somewhat worried about their commitment to aviation and to their willingness to work with me, but they have been nothing short of amazing!  Backing up Dr. Kurt Barnhart, the Head of the Aviation Department, Bill Gross, Chief Pilot, and the entire team, the program continues to be rated in the top 5 in the country, at the best value, and they continue to invest in airplanes and resources. They have been very collaborative, and they are committed to the same values we are: helping students achieve their dreams and be successful in their aviation careers.

Now, back to the students: I had no idea the critical need of financial support these students had.  Many of their parents couldn’t or didn’t save for their kids’ education, and the cost of a Pilot program is $40,000 greater than an average degree.  Many of these kids are graduating with high student debt loads; averaging $35,000, with the highest I’ve seen at $77,000.  Add that to the fact that most have graduated to jobs in the $20K-$30K range, you can see the problem. This video, created by K-State, tells the story for many of them. The featured pilot, Brycen Sholz, is a Burton Scholar.

If you’d like more detail on our progress, please “friend” us on our Facebook page.

Being involved in this program has returned much more to me than I have given.  It has put me back in touch with two lifetime friends who I had lost contact with.  It has given me a real purpose to life, and it has earned me friendships with young, motivated, giving people.  The next generation will do just fine, and I am confident that the little leg up we’re giving will be returned many times over.

How can you help?  Well, your contributions to scholarships are already helping.  In addition, these kids need more opportunities that will lead them to jobs, so internships with aviation businesses, charter, and corporate departments are extremely helpful. Mentorships are invaluable. If you have any contacts in the industry, please let me know.

In summary, thank you for your support. 100% of your donation has gone to helping a motivated, committed student in need of financial assistance.  My hope is to continue our efforts and get more individuals and aviation companies involved.  If you choose to help again, I assure you your contributions will be helping students now. I’ll continue to be heavily involved in driving the program, and I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

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