Flying Scholarship for High School Girls (at Santa Monica Airport, California, U.S.A.)

A flight training award for high school students age 15+. A Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) related effort.











Flying scholarship for Samohi girl


SMO — A few pilots have donated their time so that a lucky young girl at Santa Monica High School can learn to fly for free.

Civil engineer and amateur pilot Kambiz Taleghani reached out to fellow pilots after his daughter, who is still in high school, showed interest in learning how to fly. He wants to encourage more young women to become interested in aviation and possibly become pilots so he organized some friends who fly to create the scholarship.

The scholarships is part of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education-related program.

“Women have traditionally had a harder time accessing careers in aviation so we wanted to help level the playing field by getting girls interested at an early age,” Taleghani said.

Although the stated objective of the scholarship is a pilot’s license, the process involves learning many subjects and skills: Aerodynamics, theory of flight, meteorology, propulsion systems, navigation, geography, engineering, electronics, electricity, math, regulations, regulatory process, environment, discipline, concise communications, study habits, focus, dexterity, and more.


A few pilots have donated their time so that a lucky young girl at Santa Monica High School can learn to fly for free. (Photo courtesy

The winner of the scholarship will receive 40 hours of airplane and instructor time over a 30-month period. The lessons will be provided at Santa Monica Airport.

The application deadline is next Sunday, Dec. 22. The winner will be announced in January 2014.

The scholarship is for a female student at Samohi.

“We want to start out at one school, see if there’s interest and see if we can then get more pilots to volunteer their time,” Taleghani said. “No on is getting paid for this. It’s all about spreading a love for flying.”

Interested students can apply online at

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Samohi student wins pilot scholarship

SMO — Claire Goldberg, a junior at Santa Monica High School, was announced the winner of the Flying Scholarship for Girls Joe Justice award, which affords her the opportunity to get her pilot’s license.

Goldberg received her award at a ceremony at Santa Monica Airport on Saturday March 22. Clara Glassman (12th grade) was the first alternate and Kiana Saberi (12th grade) was the second alternate.

Flying Scholarship for Girls is a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM)-related effort designed to encourage high school girls to explore opportunities in aviation and aerospace, by helping them realize their dream of learning to fly.


Samohi junior and scholarship winner Claire Goldberg (left) receiving her award from Joe Justice, principal donor. (Photo courtesy Kambiz Taleghani)

A small group of volunteers got together to create the scholarship. Funds are solicited through fundraisers and online at Each award is named after the main contributor. The Joe Justice Award was made possible through flight instruction time donated by Joe Justice, owner of Santa Monica-based flight school Justice Aviation. The plane to be used was donated from Kelar Aviation.

The winner of the scholarship receives 40 hours of airplane and instruction time during a 30-month period.

Although a Light Sport Pilot’s license is the stated objective of the scholarship, the students learn about aerodynamics, theory of flight, meteorology, geography, navigation, propulsion systems and other aspects of aviation.

The scholarship was announced last November, and Samohi candidates in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades submitted their applications online last December. After review by a panel of judges and reviewers, five finalists were selected. The finalists underwent personal interviews at the Museum of Flying by a panel of judges, which included a girl from another high school who has been learning how to fly.

“The Samohi girls submitted some incredible essays,” said Kambiz Taleghani, one of the organizers of the scholarship. “They had to state why they wanted to be pilots, provide insights about themselves, and express their aspirations. An applicant from an East African country wants to be a role model for other females in her country. Another applicant has already visited NASA’s Johnson Space center in Houston as an intern and wants to be an astronaut. One finalist is already on her path to becoming an industrial designer for automobiles and aircraft. The winner’s aspirations include journalism and serving the country as a congresswoman — and remember, these are all high school girls.”

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Flying Scholarship for High School Girls gratefully acknowldeges a very generous gift of $4800 from Santa Monica Airport Association.

On behalf of our Scholarship candidates we thank all members of the SMAA for their individual contributions which made this gift possible.

October 2014