When they arrive at Purdue University on May 19, five new Able Flight scholarship recipients will begin more than a month of intensive flight and ground training leading to a pilot certificate.
This is the fourth year of the Able Flight/Purdue program to bring people with physical disabilities into aviation and, as with the first three years, the student pilots selected to train there share a common belief that hard work and determination will overcome any physical challenges they face.
Able Flight’s latest scholarship recipients include Marine Lt. Andrew Kinard of
Massachusetts, who was injured in Iraq, losing both legs from the explosion of an IED; Deirdre Dacy of Massachusetts, who was diagnosed with multiple
sclerosis at 16; Young Choi of California who had polio as a child; Warren Cleary of Georgia, a former member of the U.S. National Skydiving Team
who was training for the 2012 world meet when an accident caused his paralysis; and Dennis Akins of Texas who was 14 when he became paralyzed after an accident on a trampoline. All five now use wheelchairs and will train in Sky Arrow LSAs adapted with hand controls.
“When we look at applicants for training at Purdue we make sure they understand that this is not an easy program,” said Able Flight’s Charles Stites. “In fact, it is just the
opposite and that’s by design. Able Flight pilots who train at Purdue follow a strict syllabus developed by the university and they receive double the minimum training hours required by the FAA.”
The five-to-six week course will require five instructors and two aircraft. Able Flight rents the Sky Arrows from Hansen Air Group of Atlanta and Philly Sport Pilot of Philadelphia.
“Not only does this program provide a life-changing experience for our students, we use funding from our donors and sponsors to support small aviation businesses each year,” Stites said. “It’s a perfect combination.”
For more information: AbleFlight.org