As I enter the last year of my 30s, I can’t help but look back on the past decade, post injury, with wonderment and appreciation - even though the beginning of it was fraught with pain and confusion. That evening in Iraq, 21 December 2006, certainly created a new path for my life. A life that has shown me love, compassion, and hope for a better tomorrow; I may have even learned a thing or two since then.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a huge shout out to Able Flight for giving me one of the most memorable experiences of the last decade, if not of my life. Through peer advice from some other past participants I embarked on a program that would allow me to complete a seemingly unattainable dream of mine – the power of flight! Long story short, I was selected as a 2017 Able Flight participant hosted at Purdue University Aviation Technology. This allowed me to basically fly night and day, with a serious amount of book work for the better part of six weeks. I was able to interact with, dare I say it, “millennials.” This group of young instructors truly set the standard for professionalism, intellect, and discipline. My instructor, a strapping 21 year old highly qualified pilot, showed me the right way.
As of a few weeks ago, I completed all requirements, including solo pattern work, solo cross-country flying, along with oral exam and check ride. The training went very well, and I am officially a Light Sport Pilot, with new dreams of progressing to other certifications.
I was extremely impressed by Able Flight’s organization of this program. A lot of effort goes into the logistical process of securing “adapted” aircraft that fit our class’s disabled needs. Several pilots required fully equipped hand controls, etc. As well, a methodical approach was given to the academic portion of the program, which in many ways is more important than the flying component.
In short, I wholeheartedly indorse my support for Able Flight’s program. This small non-profit is having an enormous impact on, not only the participants, but also the instructors that have to change their normal teaching strategies up a bit to accommodate our needs. I myself am a bi-lateral below knee amputee and progressed through the program rapidly because of the effort put forth by my instructors, and the infrastructure that was provided by Able Flight.
Able Flight is an absolutely amazing organization. I have never found people more dedicated to helping others achieve their dreams. Thanks to Able Flight I can finally say I'm a pilot-something I've been dreaming about my entire life. I can't thank everyone enough or express how much it means to me.
I had the privilege to be an Able Flight Instructor this past summer as we introduced the program at The Ohio State University. During my orientation with an experienced instructor in the program, they mentioned that my Able Flight students will be the best students I've ever had. There was no question about it! My students were incredibly motivated, dedicated, and eager to become airmen! Observing their strengthened ability to respond and adapt to challenges presented by their disabilities was the most inspiring part of the experience. Rather than me simply teaching them to fly, my students and I learned to fly together. I am very grateful to be a part of this program! - Josh Fisher
Serving as an instructor for Able Flight was one of the most rewarding things I have done as a CFI. Seeing the hard work and determination of all the student pilots to persevere and get their Sport Pilots license is something I feel aviation has lost in the past. All the new pilots are now considered family in my book and I wouldn't change the experience for anything. I will definitely be back next year to help again!
Serving as an instructor for Able Flight was one of the best experiences I've been fortunate to have thus far in my career. I enjoyed working with my student as well as getting to know the others. What is truly amazing about Able Flight is the fact that students and instructors come from all over the country and create a very close community over the course of the six weeks Able Flight takes place. I would absolutely recommend flight instructing for this organization and firmly believe that it is a life-changing experience.
Words cannot begin to encompass my feelings and gratitude towards Able Flight. This organization is top notch, and I was absolutely honored to be a part of it. To say it was life-changing is true, but it was much more than that. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and towards the end of my 6 weeks in Indiana, I was wishing it wouldn’t end. The flight instruction provided by Purdue was professional and intensive, but always remained fun. The accommodations and amenities exceeded my expectations. But most importantly, the people involved became family to me; from students, to instructors, and everyone in between. My fellow 7 scholarship recipients are all amazing and driven individuals with disabilities. It was so refreshing to be around others who understand and have overcome, but also strive to reach new heights. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Able Flight, Bombardier, Purdue, and everyone who made Summer 2016 so memorable.
Able Flight is more than 5 stars, Able Flight is life changing. Growing up, I've always wanted to learn how to fly! It was a dream of mine, but I always thought it wouldn't be possible because of my hearing loss. But because of Able Flight, I fulfilled that dream! I never in a million years thought I would call myself a pilot. Able Flight forever changed my life. After 6 weeks of rigorous flight training and class time, I received my sport pilot license. Able Flight also in many ways helped me find more about myself and self-confidence. I would like to give HUGE THANKS to all the sponsors, flight instructors, and directors for making this happen. I can't wait to help represent Able Flight and share my experience with others!
Able Flight has been the best program I have ever had the opportunity to attend. As a 43 year old T-6 paraplegic there are many activities that are limited by my physical abilities. Able Flight’s program is designed to eliminate that physical limitation to become a pilot. Never would I have thought this would be possible and now it has changed my life. When I tell people that I’m a sport pilot they usually flip out and find it hard to believe I can fly a plane. And I always tell them it would not have been possible for me without Able Flight’s program donations and instructors. I can’t think the dedicated sponsors and flight instructors enough for what they do in enriching my life and other Able Flight’s successful sport pilots. The flight instructors are extremely professional and were able to demonstrate a lot of patience for me to be successful. Able Flight’s program is well designed in every detail including housing and meals. I have been very fortunate to be a part of this amazing program and hope that it will continue for years to come. Thank you Able Flight sponsors, Director and flight instructors! ~ Johnny R.
As an instructor for Able Flight this past summer, I could not have had more of a rewarding experience. Not only was the flying a challenge and fun, but getting to know the students, other instructors, and other members of the Able Flight team is a memory I'll never forget.
Changing lives one flight at a time. Anyone with any disability who wants to challenge themselves to a greater height ... needs to visit ableflight
I'm a rec therapist and understand the value of findings ways to make all recreational activities accessible. This is a great organization to do just that!
Without Able Flight and their sponsors, I wouldn't be a pilot today. About 10 years ago, I broke my neck and became paralyzed. I thought my dream of learning to fly would be nearly impossible to achieve, but Able Flight and the great flight instructors at Purdue University made it a reality. I'm now one of only a handful of quadriplegic pilots in the world, and I love being able to fly around with my friends. My life has been changed for the better now that I realize there are no limits to what we can do. Some of the best days of my life happened during my time with Able Flight, and I hope to see the organization continue its growth to be able to reach even more people in the future.
Charles and everyone at Able Flight is an amazing and generous group of people. They were able to make my dream of becoming a pilot and flying again a reality. They made sure that my room I was staying while I was going through flight training was wheelchair accessible and that I was taken care of daily with meals. The instructors at the Able Flight program are amazing, caring and really want to see that you succeed. Charles does this out of the kindness of his heart and I could tell when meeting him that he takes pride in the Able Flight program and will do everything he can to ensure we have everything we need to accomplish our goal of becoming Light Sports Licensed Pilot. On top of that, the pinning ceremony at AirVenture was out of this world and made me feel proud to become one of the 1% of the population that are licensed pilots. I can't thank Charles and the sponsors of Able Flight enough for my dream come true. This is a worthy cause to donate to and if you are thinking about donating, you absolutely should because there are other persons with disabilities who have the same dream that I have and need your support.
In the worls of aviation, especially of flight instructing, every where we go to teach has its ups and downs as well as their "rewards" for each studdnet you work with and watch them grow and develop into the pilot you have trained them to be! At Able Flight, the reward of working with all kinds of people with different stories and backgrounds is unlike any other teaching experience. To see a group of ladies/gentlemen so eager to learn how to fly--despite their physical challenges, as well as such a dedicated staff in Mr. Stites and Purdue's liason Mr. Wesley Major made every second with Able flight fun and enjoyable!
Working as a flight instructor for Able Flight was an incredible opportunity. The students and other instructors were fantastic to work with. I would also like to thank Mr. Stites for being so devoted to the program ensuring that it was running smoothly every day. Working with the able flight pilots was amazing. The students showed up every day ready to work. They would fly multiple times each day and every flight you could see much improvement. It was really fun watching the students progress every day. As a flight instructor it was a very rewarding experience. Thank you so much to everyone involved with Able Flight for giving me the opportunity to work with you. I think what you guys do is amazing and really shows how capable people with disabilities are.
I can easily say that my two years spent instructing for the Able Flight program have been my most rewarding experience in aviation. The work Able Flight does for people with disabilities, including Veterans, is awe -inspiring. I have never worked with people who were so determined to achieve their goals, both in regards to the students and staff. The dedication from Mr. Stites, the students, and the rest of the Able Flight staff is what really sets this program apart from the rest.
As an instructor for Able Flight, I have been given an incredible opportunity. Getting to meet the students that go through this program truly is a great experience. Despite the challenges presented to them, the students have more motivation than any I have worked with before. It made instructing them easy. The support given by the organization was extremely helpful as well.
Able Flight has been doing great things for many years now, and I look forward to being a part of this organization again in the future.
From the beginning of the interview process to the end of the program, you were treated like an adult. Everybody especially the instructors are very professional both in and out of the classroom. Everybody was very tentative to those with disabilities regardless of the severity of your disability .
The satisfaction of knowing that there is an organization such as Able Flight out there shows that there are no limitations for those with disabilities.
I love talking to people pertaining to the experience that I had and now continuing to fly on my own, words cannot express. Even the fact of being away from the family setting, those involved in Able Flight made it very comfortable and provided a family setting. The relationships that I made with the instructors especially the other students that went through the program with me , I will never forget and as of today we all still talk. Being up in the plane by yourself is freedom, and with that alone you forget your disabilities and your limitations.
A huge thank you to Mr. Stites and all those involved is an understatement of what I wish I can give back to them for what they have given me.
As a recipient of this scholarship, it's hard to find the exact words to describe this incredible program. I would have never imagine the impact this program had on my life. Something in me changed during the process. In a world set around the needs of other, deceiving my people with limits and constraints, AbleFlight is one of those programs that stand apart helping breaking through the shackles that a disability seems to bring. My time learning to fly was one of the most exciting experience that life has offered. I can't say thank you enough for that opportunity. I always told to reach for the stars. AbleFlight put me in the clouds (figuratively). I'm not allowed to fly in the clouds but you understand what I mean!!
This company goes above and beyond all expectations! They have helped my husband have an opportunity to fulfill his dream of being a corporate pilot. He has been an instructor for many years and shared his passion for flying. But has dreamed of moving it further and becoming a corporate pilot for a company. With the help of Ableflight, he has been able to move one step closer to that goal. My husband now can fulfill a life long dream. Words cannot express how gratefull I am that we found this company. Charles and all of the sponsors: THANK YOU! We will forever be in your debt!