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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Able Flight

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Scholarships, Scholarships & Student Financial Aid

Mission: Able Flight's mission is to offer people with disabilities a unique way to challenge themselves through flight and aviation career training, and by doing so, to gain greater self-confidence and self-reliance.

Results: Able Flight was founded in June of 2006, and awarded its first flight training scholarships in December of 2006. As of March 2019 it has awarded over 100 scholarships (including flight training and aviation career training), and 70 recipients are now licensed pilots. Beginning in 2010, Able Flight partnered with Purdue University on a annual joint flight training program. To date, every student trained at Purdue and sent for a check ride has passed for a 100% success rate. In 2017, Ohio State University became Able Flight's second training partner, with two students being successfully trained in the first year. In 2011 Able Flight began awarding Aviation Career Training Scholarships, and as of October 2017 has awarded fifteen career training scholarships..

Target demographics: Able Flight serves a diverse population of people with disabilities, including, but not limited to, those with spinal cord injuries, wounded and disabled veterans, and those with Cerebral Palsy, MS, and loss of limb(s).

Geographic areas served: National

Programs: Flight Training Scholarships Aviation Career Training Scholarships Scholarships for wounded veterans

Community Stories

102 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

As a sponsor of Able Flight, we are very proud of the work they do. It is exciting to see the students come every year and learn to do something they may have imagined would never be possible. The magic of flight isn't that you are able to leave the earth. It is that it is a tangible way to demonstrate that amazing things are possible. I know Able Flight will continue, not to teach people to fly, but to teach them what is possible.

Donor

Rating: 5

Able Flight is a great organization that provides opportunities for those physically challenged to fulfill their life-time dreaming of becoming a pilot. Without Able Flight, these dreams would most likely never be realized. Able Flight gives those that face physical challenges every day, hope for the future.

Previous Stories

Donor

Rating: 5

My wife Arleen and I became acquainted with Able Flight about 4 years ago. After attending their annual fundraising dinner in New Orleans and meeting Charles and Sue Stites and the scholarship recipients, we were inspired to become involved in this great cause. Within a couple of months, we met with Charles and Sue and informed them we wanted to sponsor a pilot and commit to a three-year agreement. I am happy that in 2018 we renewed our agreement for another three years. We are proud to offer the Tempest Lloyd Smith Memorial Scholarship in memory of Alreen's late husband who loved aviation.

This is a great cause and we are humbled to be able to play a small role in its success!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been involved in Able Flight for some years now, and it's been one of the most rewarding things that I've ever done. What started out as typical flight instructor to student relationships, has evolved into life long friendships. I've been blessed beyond description in getting to know many of these strong, resilient characters who have collectively taught me many lessons about being content in all circumstances, and never letting adversity dictate outcomes. Charles's leadership and efforts, along with some extremely benevolent folks have very effectively created a framework for the love of flying to take hold in the lives of these awesome Able Flight pilots. I'm humble to be a part, and look forward to many more years of engaging with this incredible group.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

An amazing organization that gives people something more than you will ever be able to put a value to! The best part about what they give to people is the ability to leave the tag of “disabled” on the ground. In the air, they are simply PILOTS! We can’t wait to get our Zenith 750 Cruzer done to help out!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We have known Charles and Sue Stites for over twenty years, and the dedication and compassion they have put into Able Flight since its inception is overwhelming. We are so inspired by the joy and happiness they bring to so many. A great cause led by great people!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Before I broke my back I was in the military and held a flight position on C130's, as well as being a mechaninc maintaing every aspect of the aircraft. After my accident I was sure that I would never fly again or be in a hangar around maintenace. But then I discovered able flight through a disabled veteran organization. I applied and was completely exalted when I received the call that I was accepted. To go through the training at Purdue was a difficult but amazing experience. The instructors are top notch and the flight program is equally rated. Earning my pilots license brought back a sense of accomplishment and independence that I thought I had lost forever. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and experience that Able Flight provided me.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This summer I had the privilege of flight instructing with Able Flight. I met great people and worked with motivated students. I had some of the most fun and personally challenging flights I've done in my aviation career.

Sam M.3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Flying had always been a dream of mine and after a fall in 2010 thats all I thought it would ever be until I found Able flight. After getting the call that I was accepted into the program I was ecstatic, taking my first solo was even better. It was a experience that I will never forget and it has opened the doors to many more opportunities for me. I can't say enough about the Able flight and Purdue program they are the best if you have a disability and want to fly.

Leslie I.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Want to fly? Have a disability? Want to train among the best? Able flight is the program for you! Being a 2019 scholarship recipient has been one of the most rewarding achievements of my life thus far. Thanks to Able flight I now have my independence in the air to fly high above the clouds!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've always wanted to get my pilot's license but after breaking my back, I thought that dream was out of reach. Then I found out about Able Flight and how they sponsor people like me to get their pilot's license. When i got that call that I was accept, it felt like I was already sitting on a cloud. Going through flight training and getting my license was an amazing experience. The people that work with Able Flight at Purdue University really know what they are doing and I feel confident in my flying abilities thanks to them. If you have a disability and want to learn how to fly, there is no better place to go than Able Flight.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was an Able Flight participant in 2019. This is a great team, and everything was perfect. If you've always wanted to learn to fly, but have a physical disability, these folks are for you!

1 Rick G.2

Donor

Rating: 5

Great organization and now expanding to The Aerospace Center for Excellence in Lakeland, FL

Previous Stories
1

Donor

Rating: 5

It's been an honor to donate to this great organization. They are doing what no one else has done by providing scholarships to challenged individuals.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I knew about Able Flight before there was an Able Flight.

I have known its founder, Charles Stites for over 35 years and have watched and listened as Able Flight has grown from a passion for flight into helping individuals with physical disabilities to gain the skills and the freedom to soar.

As a bystander and volunteer I have witnessed the growing passion and impact that this program offers to not only the participants but to other volunteers and the sponsors, both corporate and private. Able Flight continues to expand both in services and direction from earning a Sport Pilots license to encouraging careers in aviation. Able Flight and its flight training partners are charting a new course.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Able Flight is one of the best non-profits I have had the good fortune to be involved with. Passionate and committed to the people they serve, they create tangible and real opportunities for very special, hard working and committed people, and the results are measurable. I'm really proud to have followed them from the start and encourage anyone with interest in aviation and helping people with disabilities learn to fly to support this most worth and impressive non profit.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have donated to this organization since it’s inception and have had the pleasure of meeting the beneficiaries of their amazing work. The new pilots that come out of this program defy the odds and persevere to achieve a life changing goal: soloing an aircraft and taking to the air. Many go on to pursue a rewarding career in aviation. All of these aviators inspire those around them to accomplish more in life, without letting barriers stand in the way.

Donor

Rating: 5

We've had the privilege of sponsoring Able Flight for the past few years with scholarship funding and we have joined them in the celebration of each recipient cadet's graduation.

We continue to be inspired by the outstanding achievements of each cadet and especially their dedication and determination to achieve their goals in life and in their careers!

Sponsoring Able Flight cadets is a very rewarding investment in the lives of the most amazing people, including those who have served our country so bravely!

Your life will be forever changed when you get to know Charles and Sue Stites as well as volunteers and the flight instructors who so passionately dedicate their time and talent to their cadets.

Daniel R. Bachmann
Embraer Corporate Communications

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a flight instructor for this program I was able to provide instruction to some of the most motivated and talented pilots in the aviation industry. Able Flight provides an fantastic opportunity to individuals to become more of themselves and take to the skies. Working for this organization as been a pleasure and something I will carry with me throughout my career.

Christina G.2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I instructed for Able Flight this past summer and was very happy I chose to stick around Purdue to do so. The experiences and memories made during my time instructing for Able Flight were rewarding and humbling. Everyone in the program is excited and passionate about the work they do. I look forward to seeing the continued growth and progress this nonprofit makes.

Emily Ann H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

On May 16, 2018, I walked into Hangar 6 at Purdue University Airport and I was both terrified and excited. Back home in San Diego, I had left my husband and 7 children, I was 48 years old, and I was going to learn to fly!
From the moment my friend Melissa, who attended the previous year suggested Able Flight and I contacted them, I was hooked. Charles was so wonderful in answering all questions and leading me through the process. When I was called and told I was chosen, I was ecstatic.
Austin Decker my flight instructor and I bonded instantly. He is one of the finest young men I've ever met. He was calm and patient and when I was ready to give up, never gave up on me.
The whole Able Flight family from ground school teacher Mike Gref to all the CFI's, Christina, Andrew, Andrea, and Alyssa I felt fully supported. I wish I could name everyone!
The accommodations were accessible and I felt right at home.
I cannot say enough about how this program has changed my life. It gave me confidence and courage and it allowed my children to see their mom do something amazing! In fact, I’ve inspired my 19 year old son to pursue a career in aviation!
These are priceless gifts.
Thank you Able Flight!

Client Served

Rating: 5

After dreaming of becoming a pilot for years and wishing I could "fly", in 2018, thanks to Charles, AbleFlight, Purdue, and my flight instructors, this became a reality!

Everything from the application process, to arriving, to flying, the lessons- leading up to the big moment you get your wings, was very clear! This program is very well run and some of the best moments of my life were born here!

This isn't a program one can just invest 50% of their time in and think they'll get their license- it takes some time to study both before you arrive and at night after your lessons. Nonetheless, there is still plenty of time to enjoy time with your new classmates, instructors, or call home!

Big thank you for this opportunity and I would highly recommend this program to any and all those who wish to become a pilot! 5 stars indeed!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Last May, I got a rare opportunity to learn how to pilot a plane. It was one of my favorite learning experiences of my life. Their determination to make my experience accessible was the key to my success in the program.

Everybody involved with the organization has incredibly positive attitude, and they are determined to see their students succeed.

I am forever grateful for this experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Extremely well put together. The family atmosphere provided me with friends for life, and was a foundation to build extraordinary skills as an instructor. Students and instructors alike can all agree that expectations were more than exceeded!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have seen this program operate for two years now and I can tell the difference it makes in the clients lives. I interacted with participants on predominately each weekend and from week to week week I could see the progress being made from a flying perspective and from a quality of life perspective. Participants grew more confident in their abilities, became more comfortable around one another, changed perceptions of what a disability means, and had fun doing so. I hope the Able Flight program continues to grow and can reach as many people as possible.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Spenidng a summer participating in this organization, it was amazing to see the value added to participants lives after receiving their Pilots License. The leadership for this organization is also very passionate.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've been fortunate enough to see both sides of several non-profits, through being served as a client and acting as a volunteer for some. I can say without a doubt that Able Flight provides one of (if not the) most powerful experience of any that I've come across. For people with disabilities (like me) finding greater independence and confidence in living is a daily exercise. It's often that a large goal, like obtaining a sporting pilot certificate, seems totally impossible. Able Flight & their sponsors (my personal one was from Shell Aviation) in conjunction with Purdue University, Ohio State University (and maybe others soon?) provide the structure and opportunity for something so unique and special.

My first solo flight was like nothing I've ever felt; a level of confidence and capability that's eluded me for too long. It seemed obvious that this program would be awesome, flying everyday, twice a day (if we can) for 6 weeks. But I never realized how much I would truly love it. It's the only thing I've been genuinely excited to wake up before 6am for in my life, I think. When I land each morning and think about having flown around in the skies for at least an hour before 9am, everything is up from there.

Already the pilot mindset is spilling into other areas of my life. The first part is about being prepared and diligent about every detail, with the aircraft, the weather, and countless other things, following exacting procedures, & more. Second you have to execute that knowledge, & at the same time have high situational awareness of what's happening around you, with the aircraft, the weather, communications, unforeseen hazards, etc. Plus you have to illicit good pilot judgment about a variety of circumstances, some of which can be learned, while some seems largely intuitive. Lastly is the debriefing and lessons learned after each flight. A way of coming back to point zero & starting over again from the same place, hopefully adding those layers of experience into well-rounded skill.

Flying is the perfect intersection of engineering and performance. We learn the engineering behind this vehicle, then go out and fly it based on that knowledge. It's pretty freaking cool. If I could fly everyday from here on, I would. I'm eager to re-dedicate myself in meaningful ways just as I've felt here, and let these lessons become a huge part of my life.

Big thanks to all our great instructors who fit us in to an already busy schedule and keep us motivated each day! Also thanks to the 6 pilots that were there with me for the support, & being on a memorable and life-changing journey together. It's a brave squad! And of course, a massive thank you to Able Flight & their sponsors, without which this amazing opportunity wouldn't have been possible. - Benedict Jones

Client Served

Rating: 5

Cannot imagine my disabled life without Able Flight. It's been more than appreciated for everything Able Flight had done. An excellent opportunity to grab and help the ultimate flight dream come true for disabled people. I cannot think of truly thankful words to describe about Able Flight. I know sport pilot's license obtainment is on baseline but seriously it is a great start and shows that you can do anything especially flying.

1 melal55

Client Served

Rating: 5

I had the privilege of being awarded a 2017 Able Flight scholarship. For 6 weeks I trained with 5 other disabled student pilots at Purdue University where we earned our sport pilot certificate. The gift of flight was something that I had never even dreamed could be possible for someone living with paralysis like myself. Learning how to fly has been a life changing experience. My deepest gratitude to Charles and all the Able Flight donors, sponsors, and volunteers.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This year with Able Flight, I had the pleasure to instruct. My student is a member of the deaf community and communicated through sign language, texting, and facial expressions with me. I loved spending my time learning a new way to teach a student in the cockpit and on the ground. It took awhile to figure out how to understand one awhile fully, but we both worked hard to meet in the middle. My student and I worked closely with tower to set up practicing light gun signals almost every flight which was a fun and new experience. Aside from just my student, I enjoyed meeting students of various ages and from all over the country. Their passion for aviation helps drive myself and other flight instructors to do our best while still having fun on the job. Every Sunday, everyone would hang out at the hangar and cookout burgers, hotdogs, and even steak kabobs. At one of these cookouts we even hooked up some of the students wheel chairs to the light sport aircraft to let them show off their strength as they pulled it across the ramp! I laughed and persevered through the beautiful experience of Able Flight with my student, and it was worth every early morning and late evening.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I loved my entire experience throughout the Able flight process. Once I got into the program and was told that id be going to Ohio State for the summer learning how to fly beside expert instructors, all I could think about was how much fun this was going to be. I soon learned that flying is an amazing experience but you have to earn it. Each day began with an early morning flying lesson and each day concluded with another. Between lessons it was imperative that I studied, and I am so glade that I did because the FAA exam is nothing to take lightly. Able flight and Ohio State proved me with a great dorm room with my own bathroom, and an excellent learning environment at both the flight school and the numerous library’s around campus. My Instructor Josh Fisher was extremely knowledgeable in everything aviation. He is the reason I was so prepared for my check ride. Each day he showed up ready to go, and I can gladly say that he is the reason I am so comfortable in the drivers seat of a plane. The whole staff at Ohio State though deserves credit, Joe Schwerdtfeger help me perfect my landings when I was having a really bad day, and he helped me understand things from a different perspective when I needed it. Both Joe and Josh were not only my teachers but in the end became my friends. The Able flight process will push you physically and academically, creating not only a good pilot but also a better individual. I can honestly say that I had an amazing summer learning a skill that I never thought Id ever get the opportunity to take advantage of. Thank you Able Flight for making what was once a dream come into fruition.

Brice Lott

1 fwbutler

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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

2

Advisor

Rating: 5

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!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

1 Sebby A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1 Sean32

Donor

Rating: 5

Changing lives one flight at a time. Anyone with any disability who wants to challenge themselves to a greater height ... needs to visit ableflight

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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!

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Kirk C.

Former staff

Rating: 5

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!

Chris203

Former staff

Rating: 5

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.

Cory Morgan

Former staff

Rating: 5

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.

Nathan T.

Former staff

Rating: 5

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.

Scot A.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Stephen49

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!!

Stephen Carrier

LaTanya G.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

Randy39

Client Served

Rating: 5

There are no words that can describe what an amazing group Able Flight is!!!
I am truly blessed, honored and thankful for their help in continuing my aviation career. I can only hope, moving forward, I can have a continuous role with this truly outstanding organization!!

John353

Client Served

Rating: 5

There aren't enough stars to give to this organization! Able Flight gives so much and only expects that you work hard and share your love of flying with others. That isn't a problem, because after you receive your wings you want everyone to know about your accomplishment!
For me, it rekindled a love for aviation that's always been in me. After my accident, 19 years ago, I thought for sure my dreams of flying were gone, like many other plans I had. I can't thank Mr. Stites -he insists I call him Charles but to me, that doesn't convey the respect I have for him- and Able Flight enough. Not many people see a need in a population that is not served, or underserved, and says, 'I need to do something about this,' and acts.
Please donate to Able Flight, every single cent is put to use thoughtfully and strategically to maximize benefit to its clients.

5 Raymart Tinio

Client Served

Rating: 5

Before I heard about Able Flight, it was difficult for me to start my flight training because I'm Deaf with no flight experience that local Certified Flight Instructors (CFIs) were not willing to train me to become a pilot. It was a struggle, because I want to be a professional pilot that I tried to get closer to a pilot job. After earning a sport pilot certificate with the help of Able Flight, it is easier to find a CFI to start my flight training for higher pilot certificates and ratings because CFIs now see that I am ABLE to fly even I'm Deaf.

Able Flight had provided a lot for me that they and Purdue University found a CFI to train me to become a sport pilot as well as provided an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting service where I can understand instruction at pilot ground school better. My Able Flight classmates, instructors, and coordinators were so nice and helpful and can communicate with each other other ways when the interpreter wasn't around. Able Flight provided everything I needed to finally become a pilot, which was very nice. Around the end of six weeks of intense sport pilot flight training at Purdue University to ensure Able Flight student pilots become a confident, competent, and safe pilot, I do feel confident to get on the airplane and fly without my CFI.

Able Flight is a great organization that changes people's life as well as it had with mine seeing that I can really be a pilot and looking forward to advancing my pilot certificates and ratings. I'm currently training to be a private pilot, getting closer to be an airline transport pilot. I still remember the first take off during my flight training with my CFI that I smiled for finally to start the flight training as well as I smiled after my last landing during my first solo flight realizing that I did it!

Raymart Tinio
Able Flight Pilot

Client Served

Rating: 5

Being awarded the Able flight scholarship was likely the best gift of my life. I spent the summer at Purdue with a group of student pilots from different parts of the country, and with different disabilities. We were united by our love for flying, and encouraged one another and celebrated our triumphs. We each had our own dedicated flight instructor. For those of us who cannot move around easily, flying restores a sense of freedom of movement. For me, to become pilot-in-command of a small aircraft gives a sense of personal power and joy. To fly an airplane, you are reminded how beautiful the world is. And in that position, your disabilities disappear. We accomplished in roughly six weeks what most student pilots achieve in six months or more. Able Flight showed us we were up to the challenge. Without this scholarship, and the support of everyone at Purdue, most of us would have remain grounded. Instead, we worked hard, we helped each other, and we laughed a lot. It is unusual to find an organization that can accommodate disabilities and find solutions to facilitate flying an aircraft. There is no other scholarship like it, and I felt lucky to have been part of this summer’s group. This small non-profit focuses on improving quality of life, achievement and fun, which becomes part of who we are. Pilots!

ty94mom

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My name is Robin Rhodes, I’m an Aviation Resource Manager in the USAF, but more importantly I'm Tyrell Rhodes mom. Tyrell was a 2012 Able Flight student. His interest in aviation began at a very young age. Ty has lived on or near Air Force base his entire life. Almost daily he would go outside to watch the planes fly over our house. He enjoyed coming to my job so he could talk to the pilots, play with all their flight equipment, and going to the annual airshow was always a treat for him. When he was about 5, we were discussing what he was going to be for Halloween, of course Ty said a pilot. As he got older, I hoped he would change his mind, which never happened. I didn't have the heart to tell him that being a pilot probably wasn't going to happen for him because he was born with Cerebral Palsy. Boy, am I glad I never did!
When he heard about Able Flight, he did some research, and then applied. I will never forget the excitement in his voice when he called me to tell me he was accepted into the program. The day after his High School graduation we made our way to Purdue University and his life hasn't been the same since. The experience has made Tyrell more confident and has encouraged him to pursue a career in the aviation industry. Currently he is in his second year of college studying Aviation Administration, with goals of being Airport Commissioner at O’Hare International Airport. Tyrell made lifelong friends and mentors during his 6 weeks at the Able Flight program.
This organization is absolutely phenomenal! It's literally, a life changer! Hats off to all the instructors, volunteers, board members, donors and last but not least, Mr. Stites for all that you do to ensure this program continues to be a huge success. Your commitment to your students has not gone unnoticed. Thank you for allowing my son and others like him the opportunity to accomplish their dreams.

ABLE FLIGHT ROCKS!!!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Able flight has made a monumental impact in my families lives with their program. My husband, a disabled veteran, participated in the program this year (2014) and the experience completely changed the trajectory of our lives for the better. Kurt (my hubby) had dreamed of flying his whole life, yet after his disabling accident, he thought he would never be able to achieve that dream. He was depressed, dejected and had been wondering what to do with his life. The Able flight program brought life back into his eyes. The completion of the program presented more opportunity to him for career choices and a REAL FUTURE! There is NO other program (of which I am aware) that does more for the alternately abled community than Able Flight. Charles Stites and His beautiful wife, Sue, have put together one of the best non-profit organizations I've ever seen. How awesome a vision to provide hope and a future to those who previously thought their usefulness had come to an end? I LOVE able flight!!!!

Donor

Rating: 5

As a Flight Instructor for 40 years, I have trained new pilots from 16 years to 71 years old, and recognized that each learns in a different way and each presents a challenge to guide them to their goals of becoming a pilot. Until I heard of Able Flight, I could not comprehend the challenges of people with disabilities making it through their everyday activities, muchless learning to fly an airplane.

Since meeting Charles Stites and many of his scholarship winners, I have a new and expanded view of not only the physical capabilities of these folks, but also their indomitable spirit that just needed an Able Flight to carry them to new heights in their lives.

I could not think of a more valuable charity to donate, for the simple reason that it absolutely has changed the lives of so many. Being a veteran, I am especially concerned about the returning Wounded Warriors, and ask that my donations be directed to these scholarship winners.

At the annual Able Flight awards ceremony each year at the EAA Airventure Air Show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, I am overwhelmed by the spirit of those who "earned their wings" through the Able Flight program. Just think about what they are thinking -" I cannot walk, BUT I CAN FLY". It's emotionally overwhelming!

Charles Stites has really discovered with Able Flight the "greater good" we all search for in life, but rarely is our search fulfilled. He does spectacular work, and the aviation world is a better universe because of him and his efforts.



Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first heard about Able Flight last summer and thought that it was a good program that helped spread the word about aviation and an opportunity to help various individuals achieve a dream they thought was impossible. It wasn't until this past summer when I was able to be volunteer as a flight instructor for the organization, that I realized that it was more than that.

I can say that I am extremely glad and honored to have been able to participate in this organization. I have been able to not only spread the love for aviation to those that participated in the program, but also have helped them achieve their dreams, an opportunity that I would never forget and that I would do so again in a heartbeat. I have also learned so much about instructing, life, and myself. Participating in this organization has helped me become a better person.

Able Flight is an organization that changes the lives of those that get involved in it, from the individuals selected to participate to the volunteers. Of course, it would never be possible without the hard and undying work of those "behind-the-scenes" individuals that continue to work to keep the organization going and being what it is, i.e. Charles Stites.

After this year, I know that I want and will continue to participate, help and be part of this great organization.

Tony37

Client Served

Rating: 5

Able Flight is a absolutely a GREAT non profit organization! They really care about the people that they are helping, which is disabled people wanting to become pilots. To some that may sound weird, a disabled person with a goal of wanting to fly an airplane? but to them that is a possible candidate into there professional program that they have. I was ecstatic to learn that Able Flight was going to make my dreams come true when they gave me the chance to finish my flight training. Sitting on the ground thinking about your disability won't get you anywhere, and if you have ambitions of soaring in the air, then take the challenge of a lifetime and contact Able Flight and get your wings so you will be ABLE to know that you are just as ABLE as anyone else!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer with Able Flight, I was rather unsure of what I was initially getting involved in. Having never taught outside of the one program I was employed with at the time, I didn't know what kind of support I'd have, and what the environment would be like.

After my first year instructing, I knew that Able Flight was a program that I wanted to work for, or at the very least, support in the future. At first, I though that it was just a nice program that taught people with physical disabilities how to fly an airplane. I later realized how much this program did to change the lives of the people that were lucky enough to be selected. Both years that I have helped out, I have seen the fantastic opportunity that this program provides, and the many good people that become a part of this program, from the students, to the instructors; from the donors, to the directors.

For the last two years, all of my personal highs have occurred when working for this program. If I may be so bold, I believe that I may have learned more about instructing and about myself than the students learn during the course of the summer portion of the program.

But enough about me; this program would not exist without the stellar work of Charles Stites, the head of the program. He has 100% commitment to Able Flight but probably more. Whenever I speak with him, I can tell how much he cares for the program, the students, and the volunteers. He is the most supportive and hands down best director that the Able Flight program could hope to have. He will get whatever needs to be done, and take on obstacles, no matter how big or small, for the furtherance of the program. However, more importantly, he will do whatever it takes to create the an environment that best lets the students succeed. And successful he has been with the 100% success rate that Able Flight enjoys.

There is nothing I can say that has not already been said by countless others: the Able Flight program is, as far as I am concerned, the best nonprofit in aviation and deserves to remain a top nonprofit in the country. Thank you Charles, for allowing me to be a part of this outstanding program.

Client Served

Rating: 5

After completing the Able Flight program, I have made not only myself proud, but my family and friends as well. Growing up with cerebral palsy, I have always been told that I couldn’t do certain things. Able Flight gave me the opportunity to prove all of those who have doubted me wrong. I have always dreams of becoming a pilot after growing up on Air Force bases and seeing the fighter jets fly over my backyard. I thank the Able Flight program as well as the donors and sponsors because if it weren’t for them, we might not have had this opportunity. I hope that others will continue to apply to the program so that they can experience a major confidence boost, as well as earning a pilot certificate and making lifelong friends. None of this would be possible without the donors and sponsors, so I would hope that the donations would continue as they are giving life changing gifts and experiences.

SuzanneCoolbaughWalker

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

One of my favorite things is to watch the transformation that happens in the lives of Able Flight program participants. Each summer, 6 people appear at the Purdue airport to participate in the Able Flight flight training; they work very hard, and depart weeks later as changed, empowered and confident pilots. They stand, or sit, a little higher when they leave.

It's not just those 6 individuals who are changed and enriched. The families of the flight students, the Purdue student flight instructors, and anyone who connects with the program all benefit. I talk about Able Flight frequently - with my kids, friends, students, and family - almost all of whom take our own health and even mobility for granted much of the time. I'm very proud of each of the program participants and instructors, and grateful to the Able Flight executive leaders. Charles Stites is one of those rare people who makes great things happen for others. Able Flight is a top tier nonprofit organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a flight instructor for Able Flight, I had a tremendous opportunity to help teach others with disabilities to fly. In my experience as a flight instructor, I have never worked with more dedicated students. All of the students and instructors stuck together as a group the entire time while we were in the airplane, in ground school, or just hanging out.

Not only were the students awesome, Able Flight as an organization was behind us the entire time. For example, when we had a maintenance delay with an airplane, Able Flight made sure that we had the part there as soon as possible to finish the students. Their dedication to the students is made apparent by the fact that every student going through the program at Purdue has finished earning their license.

I made friendships that I know will last a lifetime, and teaching these students taught me a great deal as well. Watching my student take off on his first solo made every bit of work worth it. It really allows the student to leave their disability on the ground, and lets them join every pilot in feeling some of the greatest freedom in the world. I would definitely recommend this organization!

Kurt3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have had a dream of flight and of working in the aviation industry since I was a child. Right after I started my flight instruction, I lost my arm in an accident in the Navy. I thought my dream had been forever removed from possibility. Able Flight showed me that my life wasn't over and that my dream was still possible. They gave me the training and confidence to start a new life for myself after the old one had been destroyed. I now have my Sport Pilot certificate and am currently enrolled in an FAA Flight Dispatcher program at Universal Weather and Aviation.

Able Flight has forever changed my life for the better. Charles Stites is AMAZING at what he does and I will always be grateful that he took a chance on me. He nurtured my aviation passion and ensured that I had everything I needed to succeed. It was tough and it was hard, but it was also fun and rewarding and confidence building and worth every minute! If I can fly a plane with only 1 arm, there's nothing I can't do.

A word about the sponsors: MARVELOUS! I met so many wonderful people that support this program. Matt at Bombardier was such a joy to meet; he felt like a long lost friend that had my back and would always be there for me. Chris and the gand from Sennheiser were the same, even to the point of inviting me to share their rental house during the rain at Oshkosh when I was afraid that my tent had flooded. The staff and students and Purdue University were so good to me during my time there that I didn't want to leave. John and Bernie are so very supportive of my aviation dream and we are keeping in touch as my current training progresses.

My time was such a flurry of activity that I'm having trouble remembering everyone I met. The folks at AOPA, Aero Shell, Foreflight, and Landmark Aviation were incredible. Very supportive and personable. Jet Aviation, Embraer, Signature Flight Support, AVweb, and King Schools were also very generous and are part of something of which they should be very proud.

I am sold on Able Flight and believe in it 100%. When I finish my current training and take my place among other aviation professionals, I will begin the task of paying back and paying forward the gift with which I have been blessed. I hope to soon return to Able Flight as a ground (or even flight) instructor and return the financial blessing I have received so that others will be able to experience this, too.

If you have a disability and don't think you can do this, THINK AGAIN! I was constantly amazed at what I was able to do and you will be, too. APPLY! It will rock your world.

Matt54

Client Served

Rating: 5

Able Flight directly helped me earn my light sport pilot certificate, something that I had dreamed about from the time I was young. When I found out about this program I was blow away by what they were offering with their scholarships, the freedom to fly! The 5 weeks that I was in this program will stick with me for the rest of my life and I couldn't be thankful enough for the donors, volunteers, directors and everyone involved in making this organization a possibility.