Three new Able Flight pilots will get their wings Tuesday morning in a ceremony at AirVenture in Oshkosh.
Friends and special guests will be there to honor Eric Ingram, Kevin Crombie and Spc. Jermaine Strachan, who recently earned their pilot certificates during the second annual Able Flight/Purdue University joint training program. Also there to be honored will be Paul Lampasso of Florida, Able Flight’s first recipient of a Career Training Scholarship.
During June and July, Ingram and Crombie of Virginia and Strachan of Washington, D.C., were joined by Korel Cudmore of Massachusetts as the four Able Flight scholarship recipients took part in an intensive flight training program at the Purdue University Airport where they were taught by university instructors while living in university housing. The students trained in an adapted Sky Arrow 600 LSA from Philly Sport Pilot of Wilmington, Delaware, and a Flight Design CT from Peak Aviation Center of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Paralyzed at only nine months old from the effect of a virus, Kevin Crombie still dreamed of following his father by becoming a pilot. For years John Crombie tried to make a living by flying, but with the needs of a young family, he found other work, and several years ago became a police officer in southeastern Virginia. But Kevin’s flights with his father created a lifelong desire to become a pilot, and that’s a dream he has now realized.
Spc. Jermaine Strachan is a two-time recipient of a Purple Heart for combat injuries. After being injured while serving as a driver and gunner in Yousifa, Iraq, in 2007, Jermaine went through rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. Since then he has been a member of the Paws For Purple Hearts program as a trainer of service dogs for other wounded veterans. His hope of becoming a helicopter pilot ended with his wounds, but he didn’t give up on flying and found his opportunity with an Able Flight scholarship.
Eric Ingram is a physics student at Old Dominion University and one of the founders of a quad rugby team in Virginia, a team that recently competed for the national championship. As the result of the effects of a rare genetic disorder, he’s used a wheelchair since he was a very young child, but Eric says that all he ever wants is the opportunity to prove himself, and that now includes having become a pilot.
Korel Cudmore is a Dean’s List student at the College of the Holy Cross in Mass., and is the first deaf student selected by Able Flight. Now, after earning her Sport Pilot Certificate, Korel plans to enter the pre-med program at Holy Cross with future plans to become a surgeon and volunteer her surgical skills in third world countries.
Paul Lampasso is a former NYC firefighter and 9/11 first responder who used his Able Flight Career Training Scholarship to attend Rainbow Aviation’s Light Sport Repairman course in California. There he was immersed in an intensive three-week course designed to teach maintenance and repair techniques for people to service the fast-growing Light Sport Aircraft industry. In June, Paul passed the course with a score of 98 on his final exam and earned his Light Sport Repairman Certificate with a Maintenance Rating.
The collaboration between Purdue University’s Department of Aviation Technology and Able Flight offers scholarship recipients the opportunity to learn to fly in a university setting, and provides the university the opportunity to expand their outreach to flight students with physical disabilities, and to be exposed to Sport Pilot training in Light Sport Aircraft.
Special guests at the ceremony will include representatives of Purdue’s Department of Aviation Technology, sponsors and supporters of Able Flight, and Able Flight pilot Sean O’Donnell. Sean was the second Able Flight pilot to earn a license, and is the founder of Philly Sport Pilot, a flight school that provides training to students with and without disabilities.
Able Flight, a national nonprofit that provides flight and career training opportunities for people with physical disabilities, is the only organization of its kind in the United States. Since 2006 it has awarded more than 35 scholarships. For more information: Ableflight.org