Able Flight Introduces ‘Class of 2013’ at AirVenture

 - July 30, 2013, 1:10 PM
Left to Right: Warren Cleary, Dennis Akins, Deirdre Dacey, Lt. Andrew Kinard and Young Choi are Able Flight's Class of 2013. (Photo: Able Flight)

Able Flight, which offers scholarships for flight training as a unique challenge for people with disabilities, introduced six new sport pilots to the global flying community Tuesday in a brief ceremony on Phillips 66 Plaza at EAA AirVenture 2013.

Following six weeks of intensive training at Purdue University (Booths 3156 and 3157), Dennis Akins, Young Choi, Warren Cleary, Deirdre Dacey and Lt. Andrew Kinard passed their check rides earlier this month, and received their “wings” at what is arguably the world’s most famous general aviation event. Along the way, they each dealt with 20 hours of ground school, twice-a-day flight lessons, hot and sometimes-rainy summertime weather, and–a bane to student pilots everywhere–more than a few aircraft maintenance issues.

A sixth student, Stephany Glassing, completed her training earlier in the year and was also on hand to receive her wings at AirVenture 2013.

“Over the past four years we have sent 17 students to Purdue, and they have all become licensed pilots. You can’t argue with a 100-percent success rate,” said Able Flight CEO Charles Stites. “That success is based on motivated students who refuse to let a physical disability become an obstacle and outstanding young instructors who see this as a great opportunity to teach people who are willing to give it their all to become a pilot.”

Stites also thanked Purdue for “providing an equal opportunity for those who are willing to do the work it takes,” as well as Able Flight’s many corporate sponsors.

Combined, the ‘Class of 2013’ accrued more than 260 flight hours with the help of instructors Tim Gleeson, Jared Kuhn, Nick Losande, Abe McCollough and Matt Paczolt. 2012 Able Flight pilot and current Purdue graduate student Wesley Major served as the group’s volunteer program coordinator, while Purdue Department of Aviation Technology director Bernie Wulle taught ground classes.