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Able Flight program helps those with disabilities learn to fly

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind – A program at Purdue is helping those with disabilities realize the sky is their only limit.

Able Flight, a program done in partnership with the university, is helping people with disabilities earn their pilot's license. Trainees, who can have issues ranging from paralysis to hearing loss, work with a flight instructor for a six-week, high-intensity course that teaches them to fly. Adaptive planes are used to help most students, and the program encompasses in-class flight training and up to three flight sessions per day.

“A lot of people would put limits on people with disabilities and Able Flight program and Purdue does the opposite, they look to remove those limits,” assistant program coordinator Wesley Major said.

Benedict Jones is one of the trainees in this year’s program. Jones, who has been confined to a wheel chair due to a gun accident when he was eleven, told FOX59 that flying had always been something he wanted to do, however it was something he never thought was possible due to his disability.

“Living with a disability can make you at some points feel restricted about what you can do or what the possibilities are. When you get in that plane all that is gone,” Jones said.

Jones added that the confidence he’s found through the program is now spilling into his daily life.

“It just unlocks a type of freedom, a type of freedom that I haven’t quite felt,” he said.

When the program is complete trainees emerge with a license to fly light sport planes. This is the eighth year that Able Flight has partnered with Purdue and the university’s airport operates as its primary training ground. Trainees in the program can come from across the country.

For more information about the Able Flight program, click here.