New Aviation Scholarship Honors Former School Director


New Aviation Scholarship Honors Former School Director

The family of Ken Carson, former director of the OU Extended Campus School of Aviation Studies, recently surprised him with the creation of the Carson Family Scholarship, an endowed scholarship designed to help deserving aviation students achieve their dreams of flight.

The Carson Family Student Aviation/Leadership Award will be a $500 scholarship awarded each Spring, beginning in April, with a second $500 award added each spring by 2025 with the addition of a $10,000 endowment.

The Carson Family Student Aviation/Leadership Award will be a $500 scholarship awarded each Spring, beginning in April, with a second $500 award added each spring by 2025 with the addition of a $10,000 endowment.

This annual award aims to inspire students to get involved and make a difference outside the classroom during their student life. Through belonging, contributing and engagement, they can make a significant difference in the communities that they will serve as professionals and as citizens.

To qualify for the Carson Family Scholarship, students must be a sophomore or junior with a 3.0 or greater GPA with a declared major in an Aviation concentration and enrolled in good standing during the semester of the award. The student must also be an active member of a registered OU Student Government Association School of Aviation Student Club, a member of a Campus Activities Council activity board or CAC Activity supporting committee member, active in an OU armed forces ROTC unit, or work part-time with Sooner Flight Academy. Students must also list community activities from outside the classroom that he/she has been involved with since coming to OU and provide a short description of the impact of their service as part of their application.

The Carson Family Scholarship was created in honor of both Ken and his father, Richard, who collectively have provided over 70 years of aviation and leadership to both the United States and the State of Oklahoma.

Richard Carson, a 1944 OU graduate, served the United States Army Air Corps during WWII and for 35 years in the Air Force Reserves as an instructor pilot during wars in Korea, Vietnam and throughout the Cold War, as well as the state Civil Defense department. He was among the initial cadres that established the Oklahoma Air National Guard unit at Max Westheimer Field in Norman in 1941.

Ken Carson, a 1980 OU graduate, earned over 6,000 worldwide flying hours commanding WC-130 and C-5 missions during the Cold War and flying specialized and, at times, classified reconnaissance missions for the highest levels of the national command authority. He was part of the largest military airbridge logistical deployment in history as part of Operation Desert Shield/Storm, involved in initial air/land operations of Operation Just Cause, aerial sampling missions during the melt down of the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl and as a Space Shuttle Challenger explosion SAR. He was awarded three Air Medals, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, five Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Kuwait Liberation Medal and credited with saving 23 human lives on three separate open sea search and rescue missions in the Pacific. Most recently, he served as faculty/staff director and FAA ACR for the OU Extended Campus School of Aviation Studies from 2005-2019.

The inaugural presentation of the Carson Family Scholarship will take place in April at the annual Aviation banquet. For more information about the scholarships available to Aviation students, visit pacs.ou.edu/aviation.

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Myk Mahaffey

Michael Mahaffey holds degrees in journalism and psychology. He is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience writing for print and digital publications, including award-winning coverage of the rodeo industry. In his spare time, he writes fiction, in addition to tinkering with graphic design and photography.