For Bill Cowden, aviation wasn’t just a career choice, but a way of life.  Since he was a young boy, Bill had always dreamed of being a pilot.  Through diligence and perseverance, he nurtured that goal into a 25-year-long aviation career.

As a private pilot, North Dakota Air National Guard F-16 pilot, commercial airline pilot and air show performer, Bill accumulated over 7,500 flight hours in more than 85 different models of aircraft.  He held a Level 1 Unrestricted Surface Level Aerobatic waiver.  Bill was also an Airframe and Power Plant mechanic and aircraft builder.  He loved giving rides to and mentoring aspiring young pilots, and served on numerous aviation boards and committees.

Bill passed away at the age of 47 in an air show performance accident in June 2014.  Those who knew Bill remember his attention to detail and hunger to attain each subsequent aviation rating.  His passion was honing his aviation skills and promoting aviation activities in all their forms.

It is in this spirit and in his loving memory that his wife, Heather Cowden, reached out to the Community Foundation of Dunn County to establish the Bill Cowden Memorial Aviation Scholarship.  It is Heather’s hope that aspiring pilots who lack the financial resources to pursue advanced pilot training will be able to fulfill their dreams in Bill’s memory.

Starting in 2015, one scholarship will be available each year to provide financial support to an area pilot working to obtain higher ratings in aviation, up to $1,500.

Applications are accepted from March 15th through May 15th of each year.

Criteria of Eligibility:

  • Applicant must hold a current Private Pilot Certificate and plan to pursue advanced training in aviation.
  • Applicant must provide a professional resume, and include one letter of recommendation related to aviation skills.
  • Applicants must submit a one-page, typewritten essay giving their reasons for pursuing advanced training in aviation.
  • Available to pilots in the Midwest, limited to: ND, SD, NE, KS, MN, IA, MO, WI, IL, MI, IN, and OH.

Follow the link below to complete the online application form.  Applications are only accepted March 15th through midnight on May 15th each year.



December 1, 2023

CFI, CFII, Commercial Rating, Instrument Rating, Multi-Engine Rating

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