Congratulations to the winner of the Colonel James L. Graham, Jr. Memorial Aviation Scholarship, Joseph Beasley of Herndon, Virginia. Joe is a graduate of Herndon High School in Fairfax County and a current student at Virginia Tech. He is a member of the Corps of Cadets and Air Force ROTC, studying Aerospace Engineering.

Growing up in a large military family, Joe’s parents nurtured his curiosity of flying from an early age visiting the Air Force Academy and a number of air shows throughout his childhood. He developed a strong desire to serve his country from his father who flew the B-1 Bomber in the Air Force. In one of the reference letters received on Joe’s behalf, it was said that even at an early age, he demonstrated leadership, hard work and dedication which led to him being awarded the highest honor in the Cub Scouts, the Arrow of Light. He went on to earn the rank of Eagle Scout at the young age of 13, again demonstrating leadership, a willingness to help others and integrity. He is a well-rounded student being involved in sports, music and academics, excelling in all of his endeavors.

The VABA congratulates Joe on this outstanding accomplishment as the applicant field was very competitive with many strong candidates. Mrs. Graham looks forward to supporting Joe as he begins his flying lessons this summer in Leesburg.

Colonel James L. Graham, Jr. Memorial Aviation Scholarship

Joe Beasley at Virginia Tech War Memorial Chapel

A young Joe sitting in a cockpit (looking thrilled!). Soon he will be spending a lot of time in a cockpit.

On an airfield,  Joe  is pictured with his


About Colonel James L. Graham

Jim was a native Virginian, born in Radford, Virginia in 1942.  He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1964, with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Science, and served the Air Force all over the world, including Vietnam, retiring in 1988.  He also earned a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Southern California.  He had a distinguished career working with NASA and the Space Station, which culminated at the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization during the Reagan Administration.  

Although not being able to fly for the Air Force due to color blindness, he never gave up his dream, and after many years of waiting, he got his private pilot’s license in 1998.  He then purchased and owned a Tecnam Sierra with two good friends.  After spending a morning flying Young Eagles at a local airport, he said his dream was to make a difference in the life of a young person, trying to instill the same love and dedication and enthusiasm he felt about airplanes and flying.  Jim was a member of the AOPA and the local EAA chapter.  Unfortunately, a cancer diagnosis in 2014 ended his flying career and that dream.

Jim’s wife, Ann, created the scholarship for applicants who show that same passion for flying and the ambition of obtaining a pilot’s certification, allowing them to pursue a career as a pilot.  The scholarship will be paid directly to a recognized flight school or institution in the name of the awardee.

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