May 6, 2011
By Dave Hirschman
Two wounded veterans who won scholarships for general aviation flight training made their first flights as students May 6 at Manassas Regional/Harry P. Davis Field in Virginia.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me,” said Eli Tice, 20, of Charlestown, W.Va., a U.S. Marine who lost his right leg and severely damaged his right arm last year in Afghanistan. “My dad is a private pilot, and he took me flying when I was younger and I absolutely loved it. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of learning myself.”
Tice, a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, has been hiking and scuba diving since his injuries, and he says he’s adjusting well to the “new normal” of a prosthetic leg and injured arm.
“I haven’t found anything I can’t do yet—although I have to do just about everything differently than before,” he said.
Tice and Matt Davis, 40, a U.S. Army veteran in Washington, D.C., are the first recipients of flight scholarships from Warrior Aviation, a charity formed to provide flight and technical job training scholarships for veterans. Warrior Aviation is holding a Wings, Wheels, and Warriors event May 7 at the Manassas Airport featuring a variety of historical aircraft and cars—and proceeds will help fund aviation training scholarships.
Tice and Davis made their first student flights in a Cessna 162 Skycatcher owned by Aviation Adventures. Flight school owner Bob Hepp, a U.S. Army veteran, said the new light sport aircraft, will make an excellent flight training tool for wounded warriors.
“It’s technologically advanced, very responsive, roomy—and easy to get in and out of,” Hepp said. “These guys are motivated, self disciplined, and eager to learn—and they’re going to make outstanding GA pilots.”
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
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