'Copters drop in with good tidings for 2 county students

Shannon Egeland (left) of Desert Sun Helicopters dropped in with good news for Thea Chesley (center) and Amanda Gill, who won scholarships to the Redmond-based helicopter pilot school. The Eagle/Scotta Callister

Thea Chesley thought she was being called to the Grant Union High School for some sort of follow-up to her application for a scholarship to helicopter flight school.

Amanda Gill was equally surprised to be summoned from her mid-morning classes and sent out to the football field.

The mystery was solved, however, when three helicopters buzzed overhead and landed in formation on the field.

Among the visitors from the sky on April 26 was Shannon Egeland, a Grant Union High School graduate (class of 1992) and vice president of Desert Sun Development Inc. He and three partners are co-owners of Desert Sun Helicopters flight school in Redmond.

The flight school reps dropped into town, literally, to award two of six scholarships the school is offering for the first time. The bounty includes one full-ride grant and five partial scholarships.

Chesley and Gill applied for the scholarships last fall, and were the only Grant County students to earn the awards.

Chesley, 17, a student at Blue Mountain Alternative Education, was shaken to learn she had been awarded a full ride to helicopter pilot school.

"I can't believe it," she said. She said she's "thought about flying for a long time" and always wanted to pilot helicopters.

Egeland said the full ride has a value of about $70,000, and includes flight time, classroom training, books and materials, and more.

Gill, 18, a senior at GUHS, received a partial scholarship of $5,000 to the helicopter school.

She wants to pursue a career in medicine, and figured that teaming up flying with that effort would give her more options for the future.

Gill's parents, Jerry and Laura Gill, were on hand to see the presentation, as was Chesley's mother, Kim Chesley.

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