How do you throw a great party in aviation and make it possible for wounded veterans and other people with disabilities to become pilots? Just mix inspiring new pilots with music and food and have the party at Fantasy of Flight near Orlando on Saturday, April 20.
OSHKOSH — Able Flight pinned wings on five of its newest pilots at Phillips 66 Plaza on Tuesday at AirVenture. “We’ve trained eight pilots so far in 2012,” said Able Flight founder Charles Stites. “And it’s only July.” All learned to fly at the 3rd annual Able Flight/Purdue University joint training project this summer.
Able Flight will pin wings on its newest pilots at a special ceremony Tuesday July 24, at AirVenture in Oshkosh.
On May 19, six Able Flight scholarship winners will arrive at Purdue University in Indiana to begin five weeks of intensive flight and ground training, an experience that will change their lives forever. The six men come from all over the country, and though their disabilities and challenges may be varied, they share the common goal of wanting to become a pilot.
Actor and pilot Morgan Freeman will host a benefit party for Able Flight April 21 at his Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Morgan will be there to welcome donors and the largest group of Able Flight pilots together in one place at one time.
Adam Kisielewski shouldn’t be alive. From the instant he passed through an explosives-rigged door in Iraq on Aug. 21, 2005, Adam has been living his second life, the one given to him by his own fighting spirit and the wonders of modern battlefield medicine.
It was only a month and two days after Adam’s deployment to Iraq began when his squad was given the assignment of clearing a school of suspected insurgents. The blast cost Adam his left arm at the shoulder and his right leg below his knee, and it cost the life of his fellow Marine, Lieutenant James “Cat” Cathey, mortally wounded as the two men were on a room to room search. The actions of his squad, an immediate evacuation in a Humvee to a field hospital, and the superior emergency care he received gave him the opportunity to live. From Iraq he was airlifted to Germany, and then, in five days, Adam was at Bethesda Naval Hospital for seven weeks, and then Walter Reed for 11 months of intense rehabilitation for his catastrophic injuries.
Teaching someone to fly is always a challenge. Now imagine that the person you are teaching is disabled.
It happens every day, thanks to Able Flight, a non-profit organization founded in 2006 by Charles Stites, a pilot who believes that the life-changing experience of learning to fly is best shared, which is why he created an organization to award scholarships to help people with disabilities pursue flight training.
Many years ago, when I was working as a television news reporter, I spent a day in a wheelchair so that I could get an idea of what it was like to be disabled for a story on the American With Disabilities Act. I remember how challenging it was to use a water fountain, get in and out of a car or an elevator, even maneuver in an office. These were all things I did everyday without thinking. I wondered if I would have a similar experience if I flew the Sky Arrow 600 with hand controls.