A model who won Miss Wheelchair Georgia in 2015 and a paralyzed former U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter pilot are among the Able Flight scholarship winners who have begun flight training at Purdue University.
This month marks the 10th consecutive year of Purdue University’s partnership with Able Flight, which gives people with disabilities the opportunity to learn to fly.
Students in this year’s Able Flight program arrived on campus during the weekend of May 18, 2019. Classroom work on the ground began Sunday and they began flying May 21 at the Purdue University Airport.
Through the end of June, the students will work on earning their sport pilot certificates. The training is intensive, with students flying at least twice each day, as well as completing initial work in the classroom.
Bernie Wulle, associate professor of aviation, has coordinated Purdue’s involvement in the Able Flight program. He said the program brings in all types of people each year, but they are all goal-oriented.
“They don’t let their disability slow them down,” he said. “They’re here for a purpose and are really motivated to learn and succeed.”
Attending Able Flight at Purdue this year are model Leslie Irby of Georgia, former U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter pilot Anthony Radetic of Alabama, Will Bucher of North Carolina, Steven Martinez (U.S. Marines-retired) and Samuel Mahoney of Wisconsin, T’angelo Magee (U.S. Army-retired) of New Jersey, and Joseph Moncalieri (U.S. Coast Guard) of Massachusetts.
In addition, Emily Hupe of California is returning to finish what she started after sickness pulled her out of the program last year.
The students already have begun their studies with online courses. Most of the students use Sky Arrow LSA planes that can be adapted for hand controls with the instructor sitting behind the student.
The Able Flight students will receive their Able Flight Wings on stage at EAA AirVenture 2019, just weeks after becoming licensed sport pilots.