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James H. Connell

James H. Connell

CEDAR FALLS – Connell Aviation Group and the Connell family wish to memorialize the passing of its patriarch, James H. Connell, with the announcement of a new aviation-based scholarship. Students training in either flight or maintenance programs are eligible for the scholarship award.

“James Connell dedicated his life to not only advancing flight but to sharing his aviation legacy with others,” said Alyssa Connell, chief executive officer of Connell Aviation Group. “He was an accomplished pilot, mechanic, and airport manager, having a more than 50-year career as a pioneer in aviation in America.”

“Jim would’ve been proud to have this scholarship help a student pursue their dream,” said Karen Connell, Jim’s wife of 34 years. “His greatest passion was teaching and educating others. To have his legacy carry on this way is the fulfillment of his life’s work.”

About the Scholarship

One $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to a student currently training in any of the following:

Aviation maintenance technician program (A&P)

Advanced aviation maintenance program (IA)

Flight training resulting in PPL, IFR, MEL, CPL, CFI or CFII

Candidates will be evaluated on personal drive and dedication to the aviation industry and passion for pursuing excellence in their aviation career. The scholarship will be awarded on or around June 23, 2020, with special recognition at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2020.

Scholarship applications must be submitted/postmarked by May 1, 2020.

These application materials should be submitted to

Official application form

Typed, descriptive essay

Professional résumé

Copies of all applicable aviation and medical certificates and the last three pages of the pilot’s logbook

Letter of recommendation from aviation mentor or sponsor

The descriptive essay should address the following:

Personal aviation history and goals

What applicant has done to achieve goals

Where applicant sees themselves in 10 years in aviation

What applicant believes it means to achieve “excellence in aviation”

Demonstrated involvement in aviation activities

To help raise awareness of the scholarship and fund it, Connell Aviation Group has partnered with its sister company, runway THREE-SIX, to create a tribute shirt. The “Gone Flying” shirt is available for $25 on the runway THREE-SIX website, The shirt features Jim Connell’s personal C172 aircraft flying over runway 36 at the Independence, Iowa, airport. The personalized tail number, N914JC, was registered shortly after his death with the FAA. It is a combination of his wedding anniversary and initials.

More information about the scholarship may be found by visiting

In January 2019, the Independence City Council approved a recommendation by the airport board to name the field, including the “Taxiways, Runways and Aprons,” the “James H. Connell Field” at the Independence Municipal Airport. From about 1967 to 2012, Jim Connell was the airport manager. Under his leadership, the airport expanded hangars, the runway, and services, including the AWOS (Automated Weather Observing System). He operated a maintenance business and served on several aviation boards and organizations. He also taught thousands of students to fly through his flight instruction programs.

In 2010, Connell received the Charles Taylor “Master Mechanic Award.” This award is given by the Federal Aviation Administration for 50 years of violation-free maintenance of aircraft. He also received an award for 50 years of accident-free piloting of aircraft.

The council also approved renaming the north/south road to the airport “Connell Avenue” to recognize Jim and to alleviate ambiguity of the current address, 1684 230th Street, with modern wayfaring applications. The airport office, hangars, and businesses have the “Connell Avenue” address.