A Southampton University student has been awarded a coveted aviation scholarship.

Maleha Khan, from Swanmore, was awarded a British Women Pilots’ Association (BWPA) Flying Start scholarship for new, inexperienced pilots to gain their first qualifications.

The BWPA offers scholarships every year to support women in the UK in achieving their flying dreams, underlying its key aim to promote their training and employment within the sector. For this reason, a proportion of the Association’s membership fees is used to fund scholarships.

“Flying is constant excitement every time. Not only seeing the view, but also focussing on the fact that you are actually flying an aeroplane. I just want to keep going and this scholarship is an extremely important step towards achieving my Private Pilot’s Licence,” says Maleha, who is also a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Air League.

Well over 100 women from across the UK applied for the scholarships through submitting information on their current aviation experience, what they enjoy most about flying, why they believe they deserve the award and how they would use the award if successful. They were shortlisted by a panel of judges who determined which of the candidates showed the most promise for their future flying.

These awards will help scholarship winners in various ways, including gaining their first qualifications, starting their training to become commercial pilots, or assisting them in finding a first job with an airline.

“Only 5-6 per cent of professional pilots in the UK and worldwide are women and the percentages in general aviation are similar. Much of this is due to lack of information and opportunity,” explains BWPA Chairwoman Sharon Nicholson.

“The BWPA saw a large increase in the number of applications for this round of scholarships. The winners are all extremely impressive individuals who are already giving a great deal to aviation, including encouraging other women to consider flying as a hobby or career. We hope these scholarships will support them in achieving their ambitions and continuing to inspire others,” she adds.