Meet Ben Hensley

Meet Ben Hensley, one of Wings’ Flight Training Scholarship recipients which is supported by The James C. Ray Foundation. We sat down with Ben to talk about his aviation journey. He has been busy, a student at Utah State University (USU), he most recently attended the National Intercollegiate Flying Association competition as a team member of the USU Precision Flight Team. Ben, now 19 years old, shares his love for aviation and what he’s working to accomplish.

Flight Scholarship Student Ben Hensley smiles next to airplane

What drew you to pursuing a career in aviation?

I took my first discovery flight when I was 13, and I still remember the plane and wheels lifting off the ground, that’s when I knew I wanted to be involved in aviation. I was fortunate to have a father who had his private pilot license (PPL) which allowed me the opportunity to fly before I was able to start my flight training when I was 16 years old. From that first flight to flying with my dad, I knew I wanted to make it a career goal to take to the skies and become a pilot one day.

How is the Wings Flight Training Scholarship helping you achieve your career goals?

The financial aspect of flight training can be a little daunting. The Wings Flight Training Scholarship has been instrumental in helping me become a pilot and has afforded me the opportunity to finish my PPL. While the financial benefits of the scholarship are incredible, the access to resources and contacts has helped me stay on top of my training. It has also given me the motivation to finish my checkride, the Federal Aviation Administration examination needed to receive an aircraft pilot’s certification, or a rating for additional flight privileges.

What do you hope to do with your degree from Utah State University?

I hope to have a professional career in aviation once I earn my degree. Along with the flight training, USU provides many opportunities for students to build their professional portfolio giving them a competitive edge as candidates for airlines and other aviation employers while working towards their R-ATP license. I am still deciding on what aspect of an aviation I want to pursue for a career, but having the ability to network through USU gives me a lot of options with different career paths. After I earn my bachelor’s degree, I plan to attend graduate school and work on my master’s degree in aviation science through USU while attaining my R-ATP minimums.

Tell us about your involvement with the USU Precision Flight Team. What is your favorite part of it?

I just finished my first year on USU’s National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) travel team. I competed in the computer accuracy event at the regional competition last fall at the United States Airforce Academy (USAFA) and then moved on to teach the computer accuracy event for nationals. This past May at nationals in Janesville, Wisconsin I competed in computer accuracy along with flying in the unlimited navigation event and being the drop master. My favorite part of the flight team is being in an environment that really encourages me to test my pilot skills and make them better. There is a lot of healthy competition that drives me to study my ground knowledge more. The flight team has given me so many valuable connections within USU and outside of it. Flight team is an excellent resume builder and I would recommend that anybody who wants to do their flight training at a university to try out for the flight team.