Rex Eckwall Memorial Scholarship

EAA Chapter 80 and the Ekwall family are pleased to announce the creation of The Rex Ekwall Memorial Scholarship.  This annual aviation scholarship is funded by the generous support of the Ekwall family and managed by EAA Chapter 80. 

The scholarship provides up to $10,000 annually to deserving youths for their flight training expenses.  Key components of the program will be the awarding of flight training scholarships for glider pilot, sport pilot, or private pilot training; full engagement of the EAA chapter network to identify and mentor scholars; and the continued engagement and tracking of scholars throughout the flight training process. 

Rex Ekwall was a lifelong Nebraska resident who passed away in the Fall of 2022.  He co-founded the Clugston-Ekwall Oil Company in 1963, later named Rite Way Oil & Gas Company when he became the sole owner in 1978.  He owned and supplied over 40 convenience stores across Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.  He also provided fuel to many of his friends in the oil business (such as Kwik Shop and Gas-N-Shop). 

His passion for aviation began in the mid-1970s when he began flying lessons at the Millard Airport.  Soon after earning his Private Pilot’s license, he purchased his first plane, a Piper Arrow.  The Arrow was a very useful business tool that allowed him to visit many of his convenience store locations in single day.  In 1977 he traded for a Piper Lance.  Shortly after that he upgraded to a Piper Malibu.

His passion for aviation extended well beyond his business.  He also flew to most Nebraska away football games with his family, visited his grandkids frequently, and was a very active member of Angel Flight Central.  This organization provides free flights to those needing transportation for medical reasons. 

He was the 14th most active pilot in Angel Flight’s history.  He conducted 166 flights that translated into over 40,000 nautical miles!  He was very active with fundraising and community outreach.  In fact, when he retired from aviation in 2013 (after accumulating 8,000 hours of flight time), he continued to drive Omaha Angel Flight passengers to the airport in his car.   

Rex excelled on the basketball court and baseball field, playing for Nebraska, and on the All-Army and All-Service teams.  In his last year in the Army, Rex coached the All-Army Basketball Team. During Rex’s time at Nebraska, he set the school record in basketball for career rebounding average, collecting 679 in 65 games, a record that still stands today.

Rex was inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame, Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame, and is the second winner of Nebraska’s Hall of Fame’s Distinguished Alumni Award, given to a former player and Hall of Fame member who has been a positive force in the state and local community after his playing career.

Rex valued honesty and integrity and lived his beliefs.  Rex worked collaboratively with others in his trade and would always take the time to meet with anyone seeking professional guidance. Rex ran his businesses the way he lived, with the highest degree of moral excellence.

Rex was a humble philanthropist and was well known for his immense generosity through various charitable programs. He was active in the Nebraska Teammates Program, Faith Westwood United Methodist Church, Rotary Club, and Lions Club, and was the second founding member of Oak Hills Country Club.

The Ekwall family wanted to continue this philanthropy and recognize Rex’s love for aviation.  This annual scholarship provides a mechanism for Rex’s passion for aviation to continue by helping young aviators become pilots. In addition to sparking a passion for aviation, this will help youths and young adults learn valuable life skills along the way.

The Rex Eckwall Memorial Scholarship provides up to $10,000 towards training for a Private Pilot certificate.

  • Minimum of age 15 for glider training
  • Age 16-19 for powered flight training
  • Born between 1 July 2005 and 1 June 2008
  • Possession of a student pilot certificate
  • Possession of FAA medical certificate (private pilot students)
  • Begin their flight training within 60 days of receiving the award
  • Complete training and FAA flight evaluation in one year or less

Applications due by April 16, 2024