Austin Downs

Aug 15, 2011   //   by admin   //   Scholarship Recipients  //  No Comments

Austin Downs, a junior in K-State Salina’s professional pilot program from Liberal, Kan., has known since he was very young that he would be a pilot.

His grandfather was a pilot and Austin loved to fly with him. “When I was flying with grandpa I could sit in right seat but I wasn’t allowed to touch anything. He was all about safety. One time I got into a lot of trouble because I touched the yoke when he was landing.”

His grandfather owned an FBO in Liberal and during high school Austin worked line service and cleaned planes.

“I worked the Sunday afternoon shift when my bosses would come fly their toys. Sometimes they’d take me up with them. One of my former bosses took me up in his Polish Iskra fighter. His goal was to do acrobatics until I threw up. He lost.”

The part-time job also provided another opportunity. “I would talk with the CFIs a lot. They shared their books and their knowledge. I got through my private rating pretty quickly because I already knew a lot of what you learn in ground school.

Austin has just over 100 hours of flight time and is working on his instrument rating.

“I was working on my instrument and ran out of money right before my Stage 2 progress check, so I’ve had to start over on it. With the Burton Scholarship I will be able to reach my instrument by the end of the semester.”

In addition to classes, Austin works 25-30 hours a week as assistant manager at O’Reilly Autoparts and serves as vice president and chief justice of the judicial board of Phi Delta Theta.

To make his education more affordable, he took most of his general education classes at Seward County Community College during his freshman year and transferred to K-State for his sophomore year. “As a resident of Seward County, I only had to pay for student activity fees. Since I didn’t have to pay tuition I was able to save up money for flying.”

While balancing a job, classes, and flying isn’t easy, Austin knows he’s working towards his dream.

“When I first start my career I want to do something adventurous, like fly freight in Alaska or a fly for a small airline in South America. Then I’ll probably settle down and earn my A&P. Eventually I want to own an FBO.”

“It’s hard to put into words how much this scholarship means to me. It’s helping me complete my goals and moving me closer to making my lifelong dream a reality.”

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