The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled numerous events at Hinds in 2020 and 2021, with none more important to the local aviation community as the Mississippi Afterburner remote jet fly-in.
Begun in 1991 and held at John Bell Williams Airport since 2004, the event had gathered remote control aircraft flyers from across the nation to enjoy their time with one another and check out the latest in high-tech model aircraft. Money earned from concessions sold by aviation students prompted college aviation officials and the Mississippi Jets R/C Club to put the funds to good use and start a scholarship.
With the cancellation of the past two springtime events at JBW, club members in Texas took matters into their own hands. They used a private Texas facility to hold their own fly-in, which preserved the event and funded the Mississippi Jets Scholarship.
“There are several events similar to ours across the country,” said Vernon Montgomery, main contact with the club, which is part of the Muncie, Ind.-based Academy of Model Aeronautics. “I go to eight to 10 a year, but few have the facilities we do and none are doing a fundraiser like we do. The 80-85 pilots who come here gladly support the scholarship.”
Montgomery said more than $6,000 raised at this year’s Texas event is going to help the scholarship fund.
“That tells you the kind of people in our sport,” he said. “We raised over $6,000 this year where we would have done nothing – and all because people wanted to help.”
Criteria for the scholarship include:
- Must be a full-time student in the Hinds Community College Aviation Department;
- Must be in the third semester of the curriculum;
- Must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better at Hinds Community College;
- Must be free of any disciplinary problems;
- Must be a resident of Mississippi;
- Must have completed at least nine hours of academic courses towards their Associate in Applied Science degree by August of the fall semester as the student enters their third semester of the program.