15:15 PM

Ky. Member Receives 3 Aviation Scholarships at Women in Aviation Conference

Capt. Kelly P. Wilhite of the Kentucky Wing’s Stuart Powell Cadet Squadron brought home three monetary scholarships totaling $17,500 from the 2019 International Women in Aviation Conference in Long Beach, California.

She intends to use the awards – a $10,000 WAI Space Flight Scholarship, a $5,000 United Airlines Flight Operations Scholarship and a $2,500 Russ and Lauren Cotney Pro Airline Pilot Career Scholarship – to continue her pursuit of her career in aviation and finish her last semester of commercial pilot training as well as obtain her flight instructor ratings.

She won the awards in competition with several hundred of her fellow female aviators through a series of essays, interviews and evaluations.

Wilhite is a professor at Frontier Nursing University in Hyden, Kentucky, where she earned her doctorate in nursing years ago. Her 13-year-old son, Joshua, and her husband, Greg, are also members of the Stuart Powell squadron in Danville. 

She served 12 years in the U.S. Air Force as an advanced practice nurse midwife, delivering hundreds of service members’ and their families’ babies over the years. She completed a combat operations tour in Afghanistan and left the military in 2013 as a major-select.

Wilhite volunteers as a pilot and health services officer for the Powell squadron. She is passionate about flying and joined CAP to give back to her community.

“My dad was a pilot. It has always been a goal of mine to fly,” she said. “Now that my dream of flight has come to fruition, I want to help others reach their goals as well.

“Civil Air Patrol does that and so much more. For our cadets, it is literally an opportunity for their dreams to take flight. I want to be part of that, to be helping the next generation find their wings of success,” Wilhite said.

Once her pilot training is complete, she said, she looks forward to many sunny days in the air and lots of CAP orientation flights, particularly with young female cadets.

“Growing up, I never saw women in aviation. Even now it’s very rare to see women flying,” Wilhite told her local newspaper, the Advocate-Messenger. “I want to make sure girls see other girls flying.”