Cirrus Aircraft has committed to sponsoring an Able Flight scholarship for a student pilot for three years starting in 2023.
Able Flight scholarships recipients Tyler Cernik, Bobby Dove, Melvin Du, Leslie Irby, Andrew Kurka, Dijon McCorkle, and William Scheremet earned pilot certificates during an intensive training program at Purdue University between late May and early July.
One member of this year’s class is a veteran wounded in combat, and all use wheelchairs. They will fly three specially-adapted Sky Arrow Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA), and will be taught by instructors at Purdue University.
All six new pilots use wheelchairs, and include a veteran wounded in combat and another veteran who became disabled through an accident.
In a first for the organization, which awards scholarships to people with physical disabilities, all six in the Class of 2022 use wheelchairs due to the results of accidents, illness, or a combat injury.
“The availability of the adapted Sky Arrow helped inspire the creation of Able Flight, and over the past 15 years, many people have become licensed pilots after training in the Sky Arrow,” said Able Flight’s Founder and Executive Director Charles Stites. “Their plane has been an outstanding training platform for our pilots, and it is gratifying that Magnaghi Aeronautica has now chosen to help support the scholarship program with a financial gift.”
“The inherent requirements of unmanned aviation could provide for significantly greater career opportunities for individuals with some sort of physical disability.”
“The equipment swap takes about 30 minutes and the paperwork required by the FAA takes another 30 minutes. We go from a glider to an airplane in about an hour.”
Most will train at Able Flight’s program at Purdue University beginning in May, while one will become Able Flight’s first student to train at the Aerospace Center For Excellence in Lakeland, Florida.