TEENAGER Lincoln Cottingham was watching TV one night at his home in Swan Hill when he saw an advertisement for Bendigo Flying Club.
He mentioned to his mother that he was interested and later found himself with a gift voucher for a flying lesson.
His family later moved to Strathfieldsaye and Lincoln kept up the flight training.
This week he was awarded the Bendigo Flying Club's Anthony Gobel Scholarship worth $5000.
Lincoln said he didn't expect to win.
"My heart skipped a beat, I can tell you that. I knew I had a chance, but I didn't know I was that close," he said.
The 16-year-old already has his sights set on getting a commercial pilot's licence.
"Qantas or Jetstar is what I'm aiming for," he said.
"It takes a while to get up there in the ranks. It's mostly loyalty and time that gets you there."
The scholarship, offered for the first time this year, is named after an ex-club president, Anthony Gobel, who died in a plane crash 12 years ago.
Club president Neville Boyle said Lincoln had showed he was the ideal recipient.
"He showed leadership qualities and adherence to the type of pilot that Anthony Gobel was," Mr Boyle said.
Despite the possible dangers of flying, Lincoln said he felt confident in the air.
"There is no real danger. If you've learnt everything you need to know, you should keep confident and you'll be fine," he said.
Lincoln spends every Wednesday at Bendigo Flying Club and catches up with missed year 10 school work in his spare time.
He is grateful to his parents.
"They support me 100 per cent - they understand that it's a lot of study."
And he thanked Bendigo Flying Club.
"I'm very grateful to them for putting in their time and effort and making sure I do everything right and succeed," he said.