A Mahwah 15-year-old’s passion for flying recently made him $1500 richer.
Anthony Ross Peri, a Mahwah High School sophomore, said he hadn’t heard of the Hal Botsford Gift of Wings Fund until one day last year when he was at the Andover-Aeroflex Airport, where he takes flying lessons.
“I overheard a pilot talking about it to someone on his cell phone,” Peri said. “So, when I got home I looked it up, and decided I should apply.”
Alison Botsford established the fund in 2005 in honor of her dad, Hal, a flight instructor for 50 years and pilot from 1942 until his death in a 2005 plane crash. The grant is meant to preserve Botsford’s legacy by helping young people learn to love aviation.
For the past eight years, the Hal Botsford Gift of Wings Fund has chosen a local winner and a national winner to receive $1500 grants to help them further their flight training and education. The winners are chosen based on essay submissions to the fund committee.
“When I was younger, I was just interested in flying, like a hobby,” Peri said. “But as I got older I got way more into it. In June, I started taking lessons at Andover. I really hope to be a pilot one day.”
In his essay submission, Peri – who also plays drums in the high school band, wrestles and plays lacrosse - said he described what he loves about flying.
“I don’t really know any other kids my age who take flying lessons, so I guess it is a unique passion,” he explained.
But, its also an expensive one. Peri said he was thrilled to receive the grant because he can now take lessons more often.
“I used to take lessons every other week, but with this money, I am taking a lesson every weekend now. I hope to get my pilot’s license when I turn 16.”
The Hal Botsford Gift of Wings Fund national winner this year was Dayton Persons of Westminster, Colo.
Peri picked up his award, and $1,500 check, in a ceremony earlier this month in Ringwood.