Kevin Crombie, Chesapeake, Virginia
Making a difference
In graduate school, I hope to provide more disabled pilots the opportunity to fly, and I would do so by adapting the person to the airplane instead of the airplane to the person. In most aircraft, the rudder pedals need to be used by your feet. For disabled pilots, the past approach has been to adapt the plane. I would like to develop some kind of assistive technology so that a disabled pilot could jump in our Cirrus aircraft or our jet and essentially have the same controls available to them.
We learn the ins and outs of how the aviation industry runs. You can focus on airline management, air traffic control or airport management. I decided to do the FAA side in hopes of becoming an air traffic controller. In this track, you learn about the job, how airports run and a lot that the general public may not know. I like the classes, and I really like the position. An air traffic controller helps run the national airspace system as efficiently as possible. We simulate that to an extent. We’re doing exactly what they would do in the academy. You have to manage stress; you have a lot of aircraft who want to talk to you and they want something all at once. You have to be able to manage the situation and take it one at a time. It gets crazy.
My dad was a pilot, and I’ve always had a passion for aviation. I like to go by the mindset that if you do what you love, you won’t consider it work. I enjoy going to class. Able Flight is the reason I am here. Another school deterred me from pursuing aviation. But when I was on Purdue’s campus for Able Flight two years later, the faculty said, “you have every opportunity that everyone else has.” I wouldn’t be here without Purdue supporting Able Flight.
I’m working on a project for the utilization of our fleet of Cirrus aircraft. We want to expand how much we can use the fleet, how can we make our operation run more efficiently, and accommodate more students. Our biggest challenge is weather – you have to find out how many days the aircraft can’t fly, and then add that to when it can’t fly because of maintenance. What is the best-case scenario? We’re looking at five years of data.
I organized Purdue’s first-ever adaptive sports event in March 2013: a wheelchair rugby event. I’m hoping to start an adaptive sports program on campus. We got a lot of support from the Recreational Sports Center. We had 100 athletes, 50 volunteers and seven officials. Plus, being in charge of a big event helped with my management experience for sure.