Widow of Flight 93 Co-Pilot Creates Scholarship to Help Young People Pursue Aviation Careers

Widow of Flight 93 Co-Pilot Creates Scholarship to Help Young People Pursue Aviation Careers

Official U.S. Air Force black and white portrait photo of LeRoy W. Homer Jr., taken in 1992. Courtesy 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

LeRoy W. Homer Jr.'s lifelong passion for flight began early, with the assembly of model airplane kits and trips to the local airport on Long Island to watch planes take off and land. He started flight lessons while in high school and took his first solo flight at the age of 16.

A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Mr. Homer served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and later flew humanitarian missions in Somalia. He completed active duty service in 1995 and began a career as a commercial pilot with United Airlines. On Sept. 11, 2001, LeRoy Homer was working as co-pilot and first officer aboard hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed into an open field in Shanksville, Pa.

After 9/11, his wife, Melodie, founded the LeRoy Homer Jr. Foundation with the goal of encouraging students to pursue aviation careers.

Scholarships granted by the LeRoy Homer Jr. Foundation support high school and college students in their quest to earn private pilot's licenses. Since 2003, the foundation has helped 19 young men and women take to the skies. Scholarship recipients have followed in Mr. Homer's footsteps, pursuing both military and civilian aviation careers. Program alumni have gone on to serve as pilots in the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy, as well as for commercial airlines like Delta.

As part of its mission, the foundation also supports outreach programs designed to spark an interest in aviation among children who might not otherwise be aware of the possibilities. Through the foundation’s “A Pilot You May Be” program with partner schools throughout New Jersey, more than 1100 students have been introduced to flight and shared some of the same joy that LeRoy Homer Jr. experienced as he pursued his career dream.

To learn more about the LeRoy Homer Jr. Foundation, please visit the informational website: https://www.leroywhomerjr.org/about/the-foundation/.

By Kirsten Madsen, Assistant Manager of Memorial Exhibition, 9/11 Memorial Museum