Losing her husband and son to a tragic plane crash two years ago led Michaela Chapman to contemplate how she could honour their memory. Today, an Okanagan College student is completing his education with her help, thanks to a memorial award that Chapman has established.
Pilot Brad Chapman and his eldest son, Florian, passed away in October 2015 when their Cessna 207 crashed on takeoff. In honour of her husband and son, Michaela Chapman established the Chapman Memorial Award which enables Okanagan College students in Vernon to reach their educational goals in the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME-M) program.
“Okanagan College is virtually in our front yard and I thought it would be a good idea to support our region’s budding aviation professionals and help students carry forward in their education,” says Chapman. “Being married to a pilot and also knowing many pilots, I know how important it is for them to look after their airplanes and for the industry to have people with the know-how to take care of the machines.”
The award was recently given to Deverick Clingwall, an AME-M student based out of Vernon. Clingwall is currently finishing the final 14 weeks of training at Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek.
“I was honoured to receive this award and am so deeply thankful for the Chapman family,” says Clingwall. “Being able to meet Mrs. Chapman and talk to her was very personal, it was a new level that I’ve never experienced before, we really connected.”
Like Brad and Florian, Clingwall has a passion and extensive history in aviation. From age two and a half, he knew he wanted to become a pilot and since then has achieved both his private and glider pilot licenses’ as well as float endorsements – all before age 17. Clingwall is now currently working on his commercial pilot’s license while completing the AME-M program.
“My career goal is to be a commercial pilot, which is why I chose to enroll in the college’s AME-M diploma because like any vehicle or machine, if you’re going to be operating it, you should know what makes it tick,” says Clingwall.
Clingwall recently represented the college and placed fourth in the Aircraft Maintenance Competition at Skills BC. He is active in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, volunteers with the bi-annual Salmon Arm airshow and is involved in the Vernon and Salmon Arm flying clubs.
“He’s one of the top students we’ve ever put through the AME-M diploma,” says Dale Martel, Chair of Aircraft Maintenance Program. “Deverick is extremely dedicated to aviation and well deserving of this award.”
Every year the Okanagan College Foundation distributes awards to students like Clingwall. The foundation will present 44 awards totaling $38,150 to students studying at the college’s Vernon campus in the upcoming Student Awards Reception ceremony on Nov. 15.