2014 Scholarship Winner

“A person never truly dies until their spirit is completely forgotten and the last person who they’ve touched has perished. So long as we continue to keep the spirit alive, it continues to serve the world.” – Jarard Paige, J. Elliot Marketing

Serving the World by Paying It Forward
Captain Jessica

In 2012, J. Elliot Marketing in partnership with Women in Aviation International (WAI) announced the $2,500 Christine Reed Memorial Flight Scholarship. Christine passed away before she was able to reach her dream of becoming a private pilot. So to keep her spirit alive, J. Elliot Marketing offered the scholarship to women ages 16-30 who had already soloed and were working towards their initial pilot certificate.

In January 2014, the second scholarship recipient was selected – Ms. Jessica Koeppen (Broadway, VA) – a high school senior preparing to attend Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Take a moment to learn more about this inspiring young lady who is already prepared to make an impact on the world of aviation.


Jessica, now that you’ve been awarded the scholarship, how might it help you to achieve your dreams?

My dream is to someday become a commercial airline pilot. Aviation is a costly field to get into and this scholarship will help to offset some of those costs.

What’s the most exciting life moment you’ve experienced that strongly impacted your interest in aviation?

The most exciting life moment that strongly impacted my interest in aviation would have to be when I spent the week at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University summer camp in Daytona, FL. It was a Flight Exploration camp that taught the basics of flying. We spent time in flight simulators, flew to various other airports, had ground instruction, and got to experience the campus life itself. After that experience, it was then I knew I wanted to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona and pursue aviation as a career.

Now that you’ve been accepted to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, you are well on your way to make aviation your career. What aspects of aviation interest you the most?

Ever since I was little, every small thing about aviation fascinated me. From the winding sounds jets make, to the atmosphere of the airports, to that feeling in the pit of your stomach you get when you first take off, I’ve always been interested in aviation. It has all contributed to my desire to become a pilot.

In your scholarship application, you mentioned that you began a mentorship class at Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport last year. How it has impacted your aviation aspirations?

Through the mentorship program I have been able to get my needed ground instruction and flight time. Every other day at school I leave at 1:20pm and drive straight to the airport. I am very thankful to have instructors at Blue Ridge Aviation that are very flexible with their time and accommodate my school schedule so well. I usually spend three to five hours there at a time. I have also been able to get a better understanding of airport operations and the aviation environment itself which has furthered my aviation aspirations. When I am not flying or getting ground instruction, I spend time with the flight instructors observing what they do with other students.

What has been the most thrilling aspect of your flight training?

The most thrilling part of my flight training would have to be when I completed both of my solo cross-countries. For the first solo cross-country I flew to Winchester, VA from Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport in Weyers Cave, VA (approximately 64 nautical miles). The second cross country I flew to Martinsburg, WV (approximately 81 nautical miles).

“Beautifully scary” is probably the best way I could describe them. On one hand, it is amazing that I am up there, flying the plane and navigating all by myself. On the other hand, it’s nerve-wracking to think that if something were to go wrong, I am the only person that can do anything about it. Although, it is those kinds of thrills that I seek the most and make me love the field of aviation even more.

What has been the most challenging part of your flight training?

The most challenging part of my flight training has been getting the feel for power on and off stalls. They used to make me really nervous and feel out of control but through extensive practice (repetition and perseverance), I was able to get over those feelings.

Have you found it difficult at all to meet very many female aviation mentors?

I have not found it difficult to meet female aviation mentors. I have been fortunate to have a female flight instructor throughout my flight training process. Her name is Tori Heatwole and she is the only female flight instructor at the airport. She is an awesome instructor and it is very cool to be able to have another woman in this male-dominated industry to be able to guide me through this process.  She has been very helpful and supportive of me.

I also was able to meet Mary Feik at a “Women Can Fly”event at the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport last summer.  She was the first female aircraft mechanic and pilot working on and flying military aircraft in World War II starting when she was 18.  Listening to her speak about her career and meeting her was very inspirational.

What’s even more inspiring is that in March 2014, Jessica completed her private pilot flight training and earned her wings. Congratulations, Jessica!

J. Elliot Marketing is proud to have Jessica as the second recipient of the Christine Reed Memorial Flight Scholarship and looks forward to offering this scholarship annually. By helping others reach their dreams, J. Elliot Marketing keeps Christine’s spirit alive. Perhaps this minor step serves to inspire others to think of ways they can share their passions with the world and find ways to pay it forward.