Ashton Johnson Memorial Scholarship Foundation

Revisiting the 2022 Gala and announcing the 2023 event 

Saddle up folks and come boot scootin’ at this year’s GALA, scheduled for October 14, 2023 at 6:00pm at the spectacular Hilton Austin Ranch. Located just minutes from DFW, this venue for our event is situated on 90 acres of rolling hills and woodlands. This location is guaranteed to deliver an epic night of fun and memories. In keeping with this year’s theme at the Austin Ranch, the suggested dress code is formal western attire. We can’t wait to see all our guests in their black ties and boots! 

Last year’s Black-Tie Gala was the first annual event for the CloudDancer Scholarship held at American Airlines’ CR Smith Museum. The foundation was created in memory and honor of U.S. Army Specialist Ashton Johnson. Among other things, Ashton enjoyed flying and the country/western lifestyle. He was especially fond of country dancing and had become somewhat of a local staple on the dance floor. In the first year of operations, four scholarships were awarded to deserving veterans to help them achieve their goals of becoming career pilots. To date, two of those four have obtained their private-pilot certificates and have since moved onto the next steps in their aviation careers.

Last year, in keeping with the aviation theme, we had several dignitaries from the military-aviation divisions to include Lt. General Steven Polk, USAF Ret., Col. Scott Tekell, US Army Ret., Capt. Shawn Noyes, USAF (active), CWO/Lt. Neil Raaz of the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, plus many other active and retired military members. Corporate aviation was represented by Kansas-based Airshare’s Vice President Troy Welch with his family also in attendance. And let’s not forget our cable-TV celebrity, Kevin Lacey of Airplane Repo

Several of the silent- and live-auction items were aviation related, including a charter-jet trip donated by Chairman Airmotive. Overall, last year’s Black-Tie Gala generated just over $60,000 for the scholarship foundation.

As a direct result of that success, this year, the CloudDancer Scholarship will award five recipients $10,000 each towards completing their FAA private-pilot training in memory of and to honor U.S. Army Specialist Ashton Johnson. Eligibility is limited to current or prior U.S. military service men and women (including active-duty, Guard or Reserve) who serve(d) honorably. Applications are being accepted now. To find out more, checkout our link at

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SOURCEAero Crew News, July 2023
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The Ashton Johnson Memorial Scholarship is intended to help veterans interested in pursuing careers in aviation. We're looking for veterans with honorary military performance along with passion, drive and tenacity either starting off or in the process of private pilot training. About Ashton Johnson Ashton Johnson was born in Ft. Worth, TX, on the noteworthy date of December 3, 1992. He graduated from Keller High School, attended Tarrant County College, then joined the US Army in 2016. He served his country for over three years as an air defense battle management system operator (MOS 14G). He received numerous medals and accolades and was honorably discharged in 2019. He completed an 8- month combat tour in Afghanistan, where he was instrumental in several specialized military operations. Before his enlistment, Ashton played paintball professionally with X-Factor of San Antonio, Texas. A rising star within the paintball industry, Ashton became well known for his agility, grit, and wit. Ashton was also an accomplished country dancer and shared a mutual passion for flying with his dad. On the dance floor, there were no strangers. His innate ability to teach even those with two left feet was uncanny. As for flying, one of his favorite spots was the family hangar. He often brought his friends there to share the family PT-17 Stearman biplane, which he loved to fly. Although he had soloed numerous times (his first solo was in June of 2020), Ashton didn't complete his venture before passing on October 4, 2021, at the young age of 28. Finally, and most importantly, Ashton was a beloved brother and son. Cherished by his older brother and younger sister, he never missed an opportunity to return his affection to them.


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