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By Shane Klestinski, Associate Editor

The Central Florida Chapter of the Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) will hold its major fundraising event, the 35th Annual MSG Sam Richards Golf Tournament, at Hawk’s Landing Golf Club, June 14.

A group of senior Army aviation officers and industry representatives established AAAA in 1957. Today, it is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to representing the broad interests of Army aviation. AAAA consists of 77 chapters worldwide, with over 18,000 members representing soldiers on active duty, in the Army Reserve, Army National Guard, as well as government civilians, retired individuals, industry professionals, affiliated organizations, and friends of Army aviation.

“We’re a small but mighty chapter,” said Chris Wanitshka, CEO of X-Force and senior vice president of AAAA’s Central Florida Chapter. “We present more scholarships than most other chapters because of the modeling and simulation industry’s participation.”

The Central Florida Chapter’s golf tournament is a scholarship fundraiser that has held a close association with the Training & Simulation Industry Symposium (TSIS) for several years, and the tournament’s scheduling on the Friday after TSIS has been a long-established practice.

“We got into this battle rhythm a long time ago,” Wanitshka said. “We’ve been doing it so long that a lot of people actually think that we’re ‘the TSIS Golf Tournament,’ but we’re not. We are a separate organization… [although] we do have an official relationship with TSIS, and the National Training and Simulation Association has previously mentioned the golf tournament on their website.”

As a nonprofit, all of the Central Florida Chapter’s efforts at the golf tournament go toward the AAAA Scholarship Fund. According to Wanitshka, the total usually amounts to about $30,000 per year in scholarship awards dispersed to Central Florida members attending college. The tournament that follows the TSIS conference represents the chapter’s biggest annual fundraising event.

In keeping with the tournament’s association with the modeling, simulation and training community, the majority of players at the AAAA fundraiser are in that demographic. Wanitshka estimated that approximately 85% of the tournament’s sponsors represent Team Orlando’s industry organizations. This year, 144 players will compete on 72 teams at the sold-out event. According to Wanitshka, the tournament always sells out far in advance.

For more details about the AAAA Central Florida Chapter’s golf tournament, go to

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