Despite their physical incapacities, people with disabilities (PWDs) are striving to live their lives just as any abled person would. They play sports and inspire other people. But who would have thought that they can literally fly high?
PWDs are given an opportunity to become pilots through the Able Flight Scholarship. This is among the disabled services and programs intended to support people who are physically unable to do such things. Among the people who received this scholarship were Jessica Cox, Brandy Hofstetter, Jason Jernigan and Raymart Tinio.
Cox acquired her pilot certificate in 2008. She became the first licensed pilot who can fly with her two feet through the Able Flight Scholarship. Just like Cox, Hofstetter’s situation did not define her life. She was only 17 months-old when she was involved in a car accident. Instead of living a miserable life, she pursued to achieve great things. One of which is becoming a licensed pilot, thanks to Able Flight.
Jernigan and Tinio’s situation is quite different from Cox and Hofstetter. Both men were born deaf. This makes it nearly impossible for them to fly an aircraft. With the help of Able Flight, they both became licensed pilots.
Other Paraplegic Pilots
In 2010, CNN reported a paraplegic pilot’s attempt to fly from England to the Down Under on his own. This meant crossing 18 countries using a “microlight, ultra lightweight airplane.” According to BBC, it took David Syke more than three months to complete his journey. This amazing endeavor was part of Syke’s fund raising effort for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
His feat did not stop from there. Just last year, he left for North Pole in his microlight airplane. Despite his injury on his right hand, Syke was determined to set out a 5,000-mile solo journey crossing the Arctic Ocean. From Denmark, he flew to Sweden and headed to the north of Norway. From there, he traversed the Barents Sea then made his way to Svalbard. He passed over nothing but a 500-mile body of water before reaching the Polar ice cap.
Dorine Bourneton was also the first paraplegic pilot to join the Paris Flying Display. According to ainonline.com, Bourneton participated in the aerial exhibition using a modified Mudry CAP 10 light aerobatic aircraft.