Scholarship Helps Aviation Student Soar

Wesley “Rhett” Kicklighter grew up in Georgia, looking to the skies. The accomplishment that he is most proud of is obtaining his Private Pilot’s license. And he has a lot of accomplishments to choose from. He worked his way through the ranks in Eagle Scouts and earned the God and Country Award, which allowed him to devote additional time for public service. Kicklighter was also involved in many other clubs and organizations.

It was that commitment to his community and country that earned him another honor during the EAA AirVenture Convention the last week in July in Oshkosh. Kicklighter was selected to receive the fifth annual Thomas J. Hudner Scholarship of Honor. Hudner was a fighter pilot in the Korean War and a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his bravery of his actions on December 4, 1950.

“I am honored to be awarded this scholarship. Thomas Hudner is a devoted, compassionate man and his actions were very commendable. My goal is to learn from the actions of people like him, continue my education and to strive to be a leader in my community.” Kicklighter stated.

Kicklighter is putting the scholarship money to good use as he attends Georgia Tech University this fall as an Aeronautical Engineering major. But his ambition and his desire to give back doesn’t stop there.

Upon graduation he plans to continue his education at Graduate school and has set a goal to obtain his Certified Flight Instructor rating. After college he will enlist in the National Guard.

“Rhett was chosen for his commitment to his country and community, the same qualities that Tom possesses,” said Kim LaViolette, Executive Director of the Brian LaViolette Scholarship Foundation who created and endowed the scholarship.

Photo: Scholarship recipient, Rhett Kicklighter with mother, JoEllen Gantt (left) along with Doug and Renee LaViolette at the First Wing Dinner and scholarship presentation at EAA’s AirVenture on July 29, 2008