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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 October 2016 it has awarded 78 scholarships (including flight training and aviation career training), and fifty three 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 2011 Able Flight began awarding Aviation Career Training Scholarships, and as of October 2016 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

78 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

Ableflight gives unselfishly and has taught me to do the same. I will continues to support whenever I am able and I hope others joing in positively changing lives for the better.

9

Donor

Rating: 5

As a leading supplier of parts, avionics, and pilot supplies to the general aviation and sport aviation markets, Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co. has had the opportunity to sponsor many aviation programs over the years. Aircraft Spruce has sponsored such programs as the EAA Young Eagles, the Build-A-Plane program which introduced high school students to aircraft construction, and the EAA SportAir Workshops which provide education on homebuilt aircraft construction. Aircraft Spruce is proud to be a sponsor of Able Flight, which enables people with disabilities the opportunity to pursue their their dreams in aviation. Able Flight is a wonderful non-profit organization which helps disabled people get started in flight training with the goal of earning their pilot's certificate. For more information on Aircraft Spruce's sponsorship of Able Flight, visit www.aircraftspruce.com

13

Client Served

Rating: 5

Ableflight has become a topnotch non-profit organization that has truly made a difference in the lives of many people. I was a recipient of an Ableflight scholarship in 2007. After a few setbacks, I was able to complete my training as a Sport pilot in May 09. Charles has not only helped me by providing the funding for the training, he has been there to offer advise and encouragement throughout the years. I am very grateful for everyone who has made this program so great. Thank You

23

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have nothing but awesome gratitude for Ableflight, Charles and Sue Stites, Jon, Mike, Mitch, and Matt Hanson and Mike Davidson, along with their entire families. My son, Brad Jones became a paraplegic (chest level down) in a truck rollover while attending college at Georgia Southern University. Brad truly thought his life and most of all his love for flying was over, until the wonderful staff at The Shepherd Spinal Center, told him about Ableflight. As a Mom, I can only say this was a gift from God, not only did Brad learn to fly, he got his confidence in himself back and received some of the greatest friends this world could offer. I will never forget my phone call from Brad the day he soloed; "Mom I may not be able to walk, but I can fly." For the first time in a year I heard enthusiasm and life in his voice. I still get choked up today remembering that moment. Thanks Ableflight and all involved for giving me my son back...Brad was the first scholarship recipient.

23

Donor

Rating: 5

Charles Stites has been a personal friend and member of our 501 C 3 organization long before Ableflight was created. When the FAA passed the Sport Pilot certificate requirements, Charles recognized a niche opportunity to make a difference in the lives of some people with disabilities. He ran his ideas past me and I felt they had merit but would take a lot of hard work. Charles and Ableflight have accomplished the task hands down. Ableflight is providing a unique opportunity for people with disabilities to pilot an aircraft without assistance from anyone. For a person to hear “sorry, no you can’t, no it can’t be done, no, no, no” and then have an organization like Ableflight come along and say “Yes you can, let us help” is a life changing experience for these recipients. People who have received scholarships from Ableflight would probably not have been able to accomplish such an awesome goal without their help. Charles has been able to recruit help for this organization through donations of time, equipment, housing, and fuel. If you can make a donation, take my word “there is not a charity more worthy of your help”.

23

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Able Flight is a wonderful organization. It helps remove barriers for people with disabilities to learn to fly and changes lives in the process. As a flight instructor for the program, I learned as much or more from my students as my students did from me. Teaching someone with a disability how to fly was something I'd never done before but I was encouraged and inspired by my students' can-do attitudes. It was a challenging and educational experience. The challenges made it all the more rewarding when we overcame obstacles and achieved success. I was happy to be able to share my passion for aviation with someone who had dreamed about becoming a pilot. I formed lasting friendships through this organization.

17

Donor

Rating: 5

My wife and I have been involved with Able Flight for about two years. We hosted the Able Flight training aircraft and students at our home & hangar at OSH for the 2007 AirVenture flight training program as well as cook outs for the Able Flight gang at AirVenture 2007 and 2008. The program is top notch and we have made many new friends through the organization. I recommend that more folks get involved as it is very satisfying and much needed.

15

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Able Flight's scholarships provide individuals with more than just an opportunity to earn the ability to fly above and beyond their disabilities; these individuals also learn more about themselves as they rise to meet a new challenge, thus enhancing their personal confidence levels and "can do" positive attitudes. In turn, they share their stories with others and inspire them to achieve their own goals. For example, during the summer of 2008, two of the recipients who had earned their sport pilot certificates barnstormed 1,000 miles from Atlanta, Georgia, to Oshkosh, Wisconsin—and topped it off by taxiing right in to AeroShell Square for a warm welcome from AirVenture attendees. The tour was arranged by Able Flight’s executive director, and its goal was to promote awareness of flight training scholarship opportunities for the disabled. In short, the scholarship recipients whom I have personally met are hard working, motivated and ambitious, and are deeply appreciative of their Able Flight scholarships. Let's keep 'em flying!

16

Client Served

Rating: 5

Able Flight is a wonderful, unique organization that helps empower people with disabilities by giving them the opportunity to learn to pilot an aircraft. Ever since I can remember I have wanted to learn to fly. However, my condition, which limits my joint movement and muscular strength, made everyday activities a struggle in turn making the idea of becoming a pilot seem like climbing Mount Everest. Despite the fact, I still tried to take flight lessons while in college. Although I was confronted with many physical challenges my instructor and I were determined not to give up. When my instructor found out about the scholarship, he encouraged me to apply and a couple months later I found myself in Atlanta, GA living my dream! :) Charles Stites, the Executive Director of Able Flight, even paid for me to stay in a nice extended stay hotel and took the time to make sure that I had everything I needed while I trained. I also have to brag on the volunteers for Able Flight. They are the most AWESOMENEST (not sure that's a word . . . oh well*lol*) people you will ever meet. The instructors really took the time and energy to help me learn to adjust to the aircraft. Because I am so small (4’ 8”) it took almost a foot and a half wide booster seat, two 15lbs sand bags, and a piece of rope around the seat belt straps to make me legal. It’s a sight, but it works. :) Also they took the time to make sure I had the skills needed to operate the aircraft safely and not just marginally. Although it took me a little longer than the average student to get my license they didn’t lose faith in me or kick me out after I had exceeded the “national average” number of hours needed. As a result, on May 25th, 2008, I became the first woman under the Able Flight organization to receive my sport pilot license :) Since receiving my certificate, I feel like I have finally conquered that illusive “Mount Everest”. Not only has this experience boosted my confidence and allowed me to fulfill my dream of flight; but also my story has had an effect on many people that I have met recently, either by inspiring them to take on a challenge they’ve been dreaming about or redefining their idea of what it means to have a disability. Thanks Able Flight!!

14

Client Served

Rating: 5

Shortly after my paralysis, I never believed I would fulfill my lifelong dream of flying. As a quadriplegic, I have limited hand function and no movement in my legs. I had often thought about ways to overcome this challenge, but I never imagined there would be an organization dedicated to making this dream a reality. Able Flight has given me an amazing gift, and I feel greatly in debt for everything they have done. It was a pleasure to work with my instructor Matt. His willingness to adjust his teaching techniques in order to overcome the difficulties for my particular limitations makes him a perfect instructor for Able Flight. The whole Hansen group really made me feel like I was part of the family. I am still in awe that there are people like those at Able Flight, who are willing to give so much of themselves to help others fulfill their dreams.

17 Bob Seidel

Donor

Rating: 5

Jet Aviation Business Jets, Inc. (JBJI) has been a supporter of Able Flight since shortly after its founding. As General Manager of JBJI I am approached by numerous charities and non-profits for donations. To me donating to Able Flight is a no-brainer. Charles Stites operates the organization very efficiently. I have seen first hand how its work has literally changed the lives of individuals, brought families closer together and given the freedom and confidence which comes from piloting an aircraft to those whose need these things most - the disabled.

16

Client Served

Rating: 5

Able Flight has to be the best non-profit organization I have ever come across. I received a scholarship from able flight to learn to fly an airplane with hand control due to the fact that I am paralyzed from the chest down. The experience changed my life in amazing ways. I can never thank able flight enough for what they have done for me and I wish everyone could experience what They have to offer.

14

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My family has been involved in Able Flight since its inception. It is a wonderful way for us to give back to the aviation community and make a difference in the lives of people who might otherwise not get a chance to enjoy the freedom of flight. Our company imports and sells aircraft with adaptive hand controls that allow people to pilot the aircraft without the use of their legs. We donate as much aircraft time and support as we can afford and it has enriched our lives tremendously. We’ve made new friends all across the country. And since any body involved in Able Flight (donor, sponsor, student, or volunteer) has demonstrated a love of aviation and the belief that it can change lives, they automatically qualify as an honorary Hansen and are considered part of our extended family. As a flight instructor, I teach regulations, basic aerodynamics, weather and aeronautical decision making. Flight instructors also try to instill a sense of confidence and self reliance that is unique to aviators. That is at the heart of what Able Flight is all about. They believe becoming an aviator can breed confidence and inspire people with disabilities to do whatever they can dream. I’ve been a professional aviator for 22 years. I’ve instructed in the military and general aviation and can say that the volunteer flight and ground instructor hours I’ve performed for Able Flight have been the most rewarding of my career. There is nothing more satisfying than turning loose a solo student who once thought piloting an airplane was out of their reach because of a disability. Working with Able Flight can present some unique challenges to flight instructors, but that means rewards are even greater. The sense of pride from working with the Wounded Warriors and the "Return to flight" students is hard to put into words. Any aviator can imagine the wonderful feeling you get when you help a fellow aviator or veteran who’s been dealt a tough hand, get to be pilot in command. There is nothing better than seeing the joy, confidence, and sense of accomplishment light up the face of an Able Flight student. Another great aspect of Able Flight is how they encourage their new aviators to give back. When you see Sean O’Donnell start his own flight school, Jessica Scharle tutor new students or watch Brad Jones barnstorm a 1000 miles to meet and inspire others in wheelchairs, you realize Able Flight touches many more people than just their scholarship recipients. In summary, you won’t find a more dedicated, hard working, and inspiring group of people than those at Able Flight. And if you’re lucky enough to be one of the flight instructors, it’s a whole lot of fun!! Mitch Hansen Hansen Air Group Volunteer Flight Instructor

14

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Brad Jones, I am a paraplegic, and I was awarded a scholarship through Ableflight. It provided me the most rewarding experience of my life by awrading me a flight training schlarship which yeilded me a sport pilot license. I'm currently a pilot and fly as often as I can. The organization gave me a renewed sense of self-confidence through my experince with them over the past 2 years. During this time I have had the privilege to fly and obtain my pilots license, I also participated in a barnstorming tour where we raised awarness of the organization. Ableflight contains a group of people that are truly dedicated to providing a community of people with disabilities with an opportunity of a life time with the gift of flight.

15

Client Served

Rating: 5

Able Flight is a tremendous organization that assists physically challeneged individuals to realize a life long dream to fly. I have wanted to fly for as long as I can remember (50+ years). Able Flight made that dream come true and gave me a new purpose and direction in life that will allow me to share the wonders of aviation with family and friends. As a recipient of the Challenege Scholarship I was able to experience flight training without the expense, which was truly important to someone on disability. Funds cannot be wasted. I now know that my dream since childhood will eventually be realized thanks to Able Flight. The Able Flight organization and personnel truly care about their purpose and scholarship awardees. I will be forever grateful to Able Flight for the opportunity they gave me. Even if I never fly again, Able Flight has changed my life in ways I guess that only pilots can relate too, and that I hope to share.

14

Client Served

Rating: 5

I became a paraplegic 24 years ago. I've lived my journey in an able bodied world and have always sought out to do things that enable me to be out of my chair. To feel the freedom that we all are looking for. Able Flight has allowed me to make a dream come true by becoming a pilot. My relationship with the organization has been one of the best encounters I have experienced in my life. They have allowed me to fulfill a dream of obtaining that freedom and also giving me the greatest challenge of my life. So many different levels of who I am have been involved with becoming a sports pilot and the support of all involved with Able Flight have been there to help me through each step. As a little girl I dreamed of being a Flight Attendant....BUT...being the PILOT is so much better!! I can't say THANK YOU enough for all that Able Flight has given to me through my experience!

14

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is a small but amazing organization that tasks itself with some of the most challenging tasks it can. In this way it leads its scholarship winners by not only saying, but showing by example, that if you put your mind to something, almost anything is achievable.

13

Donor

Rating: 5

Able Flight has given so many deserving individuals one of the greatest opportunities of a lifetime.....the oportunity to FLY. Flying, in itself, is a great and wonderful experience, but when you have a disability, and you could never imagine being able to have that dream fulfilled, well, just imagine how that would make you feel. Able Flight has given that dream of a lifetime to so many wonderful people, and I so am proud to be a part of it. Thanks Able Flight for a lot of special memories shared with a lot of special people. Martha K.