Bankson files bill to fund aviation scholarships through license plate sales
Editor in Chief
Saturday, November 4, 2023
If passed, HB 105 would provide scholarship money to Aerospace Center for Excellence to be disbursed to students who want to pursue careers in aviation.
Updated Nov. 6, 2023 to reflect comments by Aerospace Center for Excellence.
State Rep. Doug Bankson, who represents Winter Garden and Apopka, wants to give students pursuing aviation education some lift.
The Republican lawmaker, a pilot himself, filed House Bill 105 ahead of the regular legislative session, which starts Jan. 9. The bill directs the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to develop a “General Aviation” license plate. Proceeds from license plate sales would fund scholarships at Lakeland’s Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) to be awarded to students pursuing careers in aviation. Republican state Sen. Gayle Harrell, who represents Port St. Lucie and Stuart, filed the Senate version of the bill, SB 60.
A nonprofit, ACE states on its website, that it is “dedicated to the development of the next generation of aerospace professionals.” The organization annually distributes $300,000 to Polk County students pursuing a college degree, pilot’s certification, advanced rating or industry certification.
Bankson did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but Eric Crump, ACE vice president and chief operating officer explained in a Monday email to VoxPopul that license plate sales would fund a new scholarship program that would be open to high school gradutes from across Florida.
"It will provide funding for initial flight training, continuing and adult education, such as aviation maintenance technician certification, and collegiate programs related to aviation, such as aviation management, professional flight training, and aerospace engineering," Crump wrote.
"Final details regarding application and award processes are still in the works, but we're excited to see this new funding stream open up, thus enabling all Floridians to explore aviation and aerospace career fields."