Able Flight honors six new pilots at AirVenture

July 24, 2012

Able Flight has trained a record eight pilots so far in 2012, and six of them were on hand at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., to receive their pilot wings.

After two months of intensive training at Purdue University, the six passed their checkrides and are now certificated pilots. They are: Wesley Major of Delaware, Tyrell Rhodes of Illinois, Jason Jernigan of Florida, Matt Sponaugle of West Virginia, Devon Radloff of Wisconsin, and Steven Scott of California.

Jernigan is the second Able Flight student who is deaf who has trained at Purdue. Radloff and Rhodes have cerebral palsy, and Scott, Major, and Sponaugle use wheelchairs due to spinal cord injuries as a result of accidents.

“We make it possible for people with disabilities, people in wheelchairs and wounded veterans to learn to fly,” said Charles Stites, executive director of Able Flight. The organization offers full scholarships that include flight time, training, books, ground school, and housing.

The students learned to fly in two adapted Sky Arrow 600 light sport aircraft, along with an FK 9. The FK and one of the Sky Arrows were rented from Hansen Air Group of Atlanta, and the other Sky Arrow was rented from Philly Sport Pilot of Wilmington, Del. During nearly six weeks, the students accumulated more than 250 hours of flight time and another 250 hours of combined ground school and pre-flight and post-flight briefings.

Stites acknowledged Able Flight’s sponsors and donors, including King Schools, for providing an online knowledge test course and ForeFlight for providing a one-year subscription for each pilot. Sennheiser, Bombardier, and Embraer were also lauded for their efforts.