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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.