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Bill Cowden Aviation Scholarship Open Now Through May 19

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 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.

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 through May of each year. The 2024 application submission deadline is 5 pm on May 19. Criteria for eligibility are as follows:

  • Available to Private Pilots of all ages.

  • This scholarship specifically promotes advanced aviation training. Applicants must already hold a current Private Pilot Certificate.

  • This scholarship is to be used toward advanced aviation training.

  • 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 aviation training.

  • Available to pilots in the Midwest, limited to: ND, SD, NE, KS, MN, IA, MO, WI, IL, MI, IN, and OH.

All applications must be submitted through the CFDC scholarship portal at Further information and details can be found at

CFDC Media Release


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