Heather McRoberts Memorial Scholarship Fund

Established by David and Jan McRoberts, in memory of Heather McRoberts

“When she was a toddler learning to stand, Heather pulled herself up to her feet by grasping the control stick of an airplane.  She never let go.” – Lana Morgan

 

Heather, or “Tinkerbell” as she was called by many of her co-workers at Mile High Gliding in Boulder, Colo., was inspired and motivated to excel in every aviation endeavor. From soloing in a Schweizer 2-33 glider upon turning 14, to obtaining her commercial and seaplane rating four years later, she always achieved her goals as a birthday tradition.  

Her enthusiasm and energy toward the world of flight inspired Heather’s parents, David and Jan McRoberts, to create a scholarship in her name, a memorial tribute following her death at the young age of 19 in a plane crash.

“She absolutely loved flying,” said her father, Dave. “Heather took every opportunity to share her passion. Flying was in her blood from day one!”


Heather McRoberts

A fascination with aviation runs through the entire McRoberts family, beginning with Heather’s grandfather and continuing through her parents, David and Jan, who are both pilots.  They met through the love of flight and have been married for 27 years.  “We love to fly any chance we get,” said Jan.

The scholarship, funded through donations made after Heather’s passing, will promote women and youth in aviation. Her parents felt it would be the perfect tribute to an inspiring life, too-short lived. “People loved her,” shared Jan. “That is why we had so many donations to the cause.”

Heather continually motivated aviation enthusiasts, young and old, to become more involved in exploring the skies above.  Heather focused this devotion after visiting Oshkosh, Wis. during EAA AirVenture 2003.  While there, she noticed few teens and young women in attendance.

“Heather and her friend, Scooter Mainero, decided they wanted to promote youth and women in aviation by flying cross-country and giving free rides using the EAA’s Young Eagles program,” wrote Heather's aunt, Lana Morgan.  “Raising the money all on their own, these 17-year-olds created ‘The Young Luscombes.’  With their dispatcher, Arnold Peckar, three Luscombes swept the skies of the Midwest giving over 60 rides and promoting their passion….flying.” 

Their cross-country tour ended under the stars, camping out during AirVenture 2004. 

“We get a much more intimate feeling of being in Oshkosh when we camp during AirVenture,” said her father. “That was Heather’s favorite part, come rain or shine.”

 

“They did pre-air show fly-bys most of the week,” wrote Lana. “Heather did a “greaser” landing in the rain just as a thunderstorm was approaching. They closed the airport after she landed.  She said, ‘I had strangers asking me for days afterwards if I was really the same girl who did that ‘beautiful landing.’  Catching the attention of the media, ‘The Young Luscombes’ were featured in several television news segments and newspaper stories.”

Two years later, on July 30, 2006, Heather perished with her friend, Dave Para, near Betty Lake, Colorado.

Heather loved nothing more than flying and hanging out at the Boulder airport—and in a fitting tribute to her, Heather's family, friends, and community gathered in an airport hanger to honor and remember her.  Pilots and aviation classmates from eight states flew in for her memorial.  Heather's life, and love of flying, were celebrated in a film tribute by her uncle, James Morgan, and writings by her aunt, Lana; along with the many friends and family members, who lined up at the open-mike, to share their touching memories and humorous anecdotes. In a poignant farewell, Heather's pilot friends paid tribute to her with a missing man-formation flyby.

The aviation community’s response to Heather’s death was extraordinary, resulting in a vast amount of contributions and a plaque donated to EAA by her friends at Antique Airplane Association of Colorado.

“We have all been inspired by Heather’s spirit, life and aviation itself to ‘give wings’ to future generations,” said her father, Dave.

“A lot of people have the desire to fly but not the funds or the direction,” said her mother, Jan.  “EAA can provide that direction and support.” (Girls participating in EAA’s Women Soar You Soar program are invited to apply for the Heather McRoberts Memorial Scholarship -
Learn more.)

Before she passed away, Heather attended the University of North Dakota, studying aviation. She worked two seasons as a tow pilot at Mile High Gliding in Boulder, Colo.  Her dad remembered the organization’s owner saying she was the youngest pilot he had ever hired and the best they had ever had.

“I think that this scholarship in her honor would be something that she would really, really want,” said her mother. “Her death shouldn’t be a reason not to promote aviation. She would want her life to inspire others, not deter them from flying.”

“With her short tousled blonde hair and lanky colt-like physique, Heather bore a striking resemblance to aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart,” wrote Lana. “Her enthusiasm and inquisitiveness gave her an explorer’s view of the world and she was not afraid to spread her wings.” 

Now, Heather will be able to ‘give wings’ to the future, too.

 

Special thanks to Lana Morgan for sharing her beautifully written tribute to her niece. To view Heather McRoberts’ eulogy in full and read more about her legacy, please visit the Web page created in her honor at www.myspace.com/heathermcrobertsmemorial.  

"Tinkerbell"

“We have all been inspired by Heather’s spirit, life and aviation itself to ‘give wings’ to future generations,” said her father, Dave.

Her mother, Jan, goes on to say that, “A lot of people have the desire to fly but not the funds or the direction. EAA can provide that direction and support.”