Purdue Polytechnic’s School of Aviation and Transportation Technology collaborated with aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel and the Federal Aviation Administration to convert a glider aircraft into an airplane to provide flight training to disabled, would-be pilots.
The Able Flight program, which provides people dealing with disabilities the opportunity to learn to fly, is taking place for the 10th consecutive year at Purdue.
Students in this year's Able Flight program arrived on campus May 22 to overcome disabilities and take to the skies in Sky Arrow planes.
Overcoming a devastating spinal cord injury from an accident 10 years ago, Justin Falls, 28, a pharmacist at Frye Regional Medical Center in Hickory, North Carolina, passed his sport pilot check ride after completing his training at the Purdue University Airport.
Eight people with disabilities can become licensed pilots in 2016 thanks to Able Flight.
Purdue instructors are currently training four disabled student pilots as part of the Able Flight program that has helped dozens of disabled pilots solo and earn sport pilot certificates. The aviation technology department will host representatives of companies such as Republic Airways, Envoy Air, General Electric, and Directional Aviation Capital for an open brainstorming forum. Aviation industry entrepreneur, executive and investor Kenneth C. Ricci is buying a specially-equipped Sky Arrow L600 to help Purdue expand the program, which is limited in part by the need to lease the lightweight planes in which the students train.
Jason Gibson, one of six Able Flight students who earned a pilot certificate during the 2014 program at Purdue, was featured on a recent WTHR news broadcast.
Gibson was injured in Afghanistan in 2012, losing both legs from the explosion of a roadside bomb.
The fifth annual Able Flight program at Purdue University, for aspiring pilots with disabilities, will welcome six recruits for its six-week course May 20.
Able Flight, a non-profit organization based in Chapel Hill, N.C., provides men and women with disabilities an opportunity to attain a pilot license.
Purdue has a 100 percent success rate of its students earning pilot certifications, and a number of Able Flight participants have continued their education in Purdue’s Department of Aviation Technology.
Five people with physical disabilities are about halfway through their Able Flight pilot training at Purdue University.
Hosted by the Department of Aviation Technology at Purdue, Able Flight is in its fourth year at the University. The program includes five weeks of intensive and ground training that leads to a pilot certificate. The Able Flight participants train with Purdue flight instructors in Sky Arrow LSAs adapted with hand controls.