From left are: Joshua; EAA Chapter 22 Aviation Merit Badge Counselor Doug Miller; EAA Chapter 22 Scholarship Coordinator Mark Grocholl; and Troop 32 BSA Committee Chair, Alderman Clint Little.


By Margaret Downing


Sixteen-year old Boylan High School student and Troop 32 Boy Scout, Joshua White, of Loves Park, successfully completed his first solo flight this past week after logging over 22 hours of aviation flight instruction at Poplar Grove Airport this summer.

Joshua is now well on his way to earning his private pilot Certificate before turning 17 with the help of the Experimental Aviation Association, EAA Chapter 22.

Fulfilling a dream

After Joshua met Doug Miller, Rockford Cottonwood Airport EAA chapter member and Boy Scouts of America Aviation Merit badge counselor, a lifelong dream took shape. Through Joshua’s work on the aviation merit badge and through EAA contacts he became aware of the EAA “Ray Aviation” scholarship and applied before the schools were closed due to COVID-19.

The EAA awarded Joshua the scholarship on June 8 and he began flight training.

City of Loves Park First Ward Alderman, Clint Little, is a big supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, and is currently the Wanchanagi District Chairperson who oversees the programing, financial, and membership functions for Boy Scouts in Winnebago and Boone Counties.

As District Chair, Clint works to develop opportunities for local youth in the area. Clint helped get EAA members involved in Boy Scouts by becoming merit badge counselors for aviation. Clint worked with Doug Miller, Mark Grocholl, and Elroy Hilbert of EAA Chapter 22 to develop a joint effort hosting clinics at the Rock Valley College Aviation Center located on the grounds of Rockford Airport.

Little stated, “These clinics are designed to teach Scouts about possible careers and increasing their knowledge of flight while encouraging their imaginations to take flight.”

Clint Little is not only the District Chair for Wanchanagi, but also Committee Chair for Joshua’s Troop and was asked to write a recommendation letter for the application recognizing Joshua’s commitment both inside and outside of Boy Scouts.

Little notes, “Joshua has excelled in Scouting and is dedicated in his studies. He is a well-rounded individual that balances his education and activities.

“Outside of his current troop position, Joshua has completed National Youth Leadership Training and served as past Patrol Leader, Historian, and Troop Guide. He is a track runner and knows how to pace himself to finish not only a race, but any goal that he sets out to achieve.

“Joshua cares about his community and always lends a hand to help improve the community and those within. He has volunteered his time and effort to complete not only his own projects, but to assist others with their projects and tasks as well. Joshua has positively impacted both the youth and adult leaders in his Boy Scout Troop these past several years. He is a mentor and a strong leader in his troop.

“Joshua is now on his way toward accomplishing one of his goals, which is to earn his pilot’s license. The Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 22 has given Joshua a great opportunity that will now be available to future youth in our community.”

On July 15 from the Poplar Grove Airport, Joshua took his first solo flight.

EAA chapter members are very involved with promoting aviation careers for young people, such as through the ‘Young Eagles Program.’”

Alderman Little explained, “Joshua’s flight instructor is Mark Mallamo and Joshua learned to fly under his direction through attending the ‘Airmotive Flight School’ under owner Tina Thomas at the Poplar Grove Airport, 11619 Route 76.”

Joshua’s father, William White, explains that Certified Flight Instructor Elroy Hilbert is a mentor to Joshua as he provided the first Young Eagle Flight experience, for not only Joshua but also for Joshua’s sister Rachel and brother Steven. Hilbert teaches aircraft “A&P Maintenance” at Rock Valley College through Rockford Airport.”

Mark Grocholl, EAA Scholarship Coordinator (Chapter 22), has only good things to say about Joshua, as does Alderman Little who added, “Joshua was recently awarded the Ray Aviation Scholarship through the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 22. He is 16 years old, a member of Troop 32 and is currently at the rank of ‘Life’ working toward Eagle Scout. This scholarship will cover expenses up to $10,000 so he can complete his pilot licensing. Joshua is looking to enter the medical field and use his flight experience and license in that field.”

Little continued, “As Chair of Troop 32 and District Chair of Wanchanagi which, oversees programming, finances and membership of Boy Scouts BSA for all of Boone and Winnebago Counties, I worked with the members of EAA Chapter 22 and our Scout leaders to create a Boy Scout Program to encourage the interests of our youth in aviation. The members of EAA were excited to work with area youth on the program and have seen much interest.

“I helped get EAA members involved in becoming merit badge counselors for aviation. We also had a joint effort hosting clinics out at Rock Valley Aviation Center for the youth teaching them about possible careers and increasing their knowledge of flight. This is where Josh met Doug Miller who is a chapter member and counselor.

“Through Joshua’s work on the aviation merit badge he became aware of the scholarship and applied. I wrote a recommendation letter for his application to the National Organization. He has been awarded the scholarship and has been working on his flight hours with his instructor out at Poplar Grove and he has been helping EAA Chapter 22 construct a Canadian Bush Plane at Cottonwood Airport and restore a Cessna 152.”

Joshua’s parents, Sarah and William White, are very grateful for the Boy Scouts organization and said, “They have helped so many young people to learn about aviation through the Air Camp at Rockford Airport, the EAA Young Eagles flights, and the Aviation Merit Badge.

“Our son Joshua has had such interest in aviation all his young life and this opportunity is a fulfillment of his ambition towards a future career and a private pilot certificate.

“This year Joshua will also be able to earn his Boy Scout Eagle Scout rank as he continues helping to lead other young scouts, paying it forward as he was himself mentored.

“We are very proud of what Joshua is accomplishing, as we are with all five of our children.”

William adds, “The lives they have was made possible by the selfless sacrifice and courage of their mother, Sarah, who nearly gave her life five times in giving each of them life. Now, as young adults, we parents get to see them find the paths they choose to walk… or fly.

“I have heard it said that aviators have the love of flight in their veins. I believe this to be true as our children each love to fly. I recognize that it was through the hard work and efforts of earlier generations who passed on a legacy that we are to be good stewards to safeguard our freedoms to our posterity.

“As Joshua learned from his Kindergarten teacher, ‘hard work pays off…’”

For more information on the Poplar Grove Airport, go to For Cottonwood Airport, go to



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