Captain Steven Staples Aviation Leadership Scholarship

The Steven Staples Memorial Aviation Scholarship was established in memory of Steven Allen Staples. His passion for flying emerged as a young child living on a small country airport in Upstate New York. It was there Steve could be found attending ground school in his living room, aircraft parked in the backyard, and strapped to the back seat of a Piper Tri-Pacer while his mother took her morning flight lesson. His private pilot father, the late Lynn A. Staples, who made significant patented industry contributions in aircraft simulation during his career at Singer/Link and the University of Illinois’ Institute for Aviation supported Steve’s love for flying through sharing his wisdom of aviation in the world. Later in life,
Steve would continue to share his passion with fellow family pilots, uncle Senator Dan Staples, cousin Gordon Buss, wife Melissa and his sister Susan.

He entered Southern Illinois University’s Aviation program to continue his education and graduated with a degree in Aviation Management. During his days at SIU, Steven was a key member of the National Champion Flying Saluki Precision Flight Team and worked at the Southern Illinois Airport for Line Service.

Steven was hired right out of college with the world class Pan American Airways. He was one of the youngest pilots on their seniority list and affectionately known as “the Kid.” During his airline career he was type rated and flew the line on various aircraft including Boeing 727, 737, 747-400, 757, 767 and the Lockheed LlOl 1. The B-747 was his favorite. In addition, he flew classic World War II B-17 and Consolidated B-24 bombers on barnstorming tours for the Collings Foundation. He felt he had served his country as a civilian through the numerous flights flying the American Troops in and out of the Middle East. He once described the experience by describing his passengers who ranged from the young dirt covered enlisted man who just ran from a fox hole to his jet, to the just shaven sharp General. All would make their way to the open door cockpit and shared their stories with Steve.

Steven’s success is attributed to his character. He was kind, always smiled and would help his fellow aviators through his leadership as an elected member of the Airline Pilots Association. He was proud to serve as the President for his Airline at the time for American Trans Air. He was recognized for his efforts by many during difficult industry challenges both in Washington at a Federal level and in his local area. Many pilots and their families benefited by his efforts. Steven lost his life on June 25, 2011 at the age of 47 in an accident while flying his favorite Piper Cub J3C at the annual Experimental Aircraft Association in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

  • Scholarship for an Aviation Flight or Aviation Management major with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and membership in one of the aviation oriented RSOs or departmental organizations.

Ms. Susan A. Staples
Area of Interest
College of Health and Human Sciences, School of Aviation