February 11, 2017

Announcing Our 2017 Scholarship Awards


This year’s class will train at Able Flight’s programs at Purdue University and Ohio State University, and includes a U.S. Army captain wounded in combat, a young woman with diabetes, a young man who is deaf, and five people who use wheelchairs due to paralysis caused by injuries.

Receiving full flight training scholarships are Brice Lott and Chris Corsi of North Carolina, Melissa Allensworth of California, Zackery Kukorlo of Washington, Kathryn Brenner of Illinois, Kunho Kim of Massachusetts, Benedict Jones of Indiana and Captain Ferris Butler (U.S. Army-retired) of Colorado. Receiving a “Flight Training Challenge” Scholarship is Steven Martinez of Wisconsin.

Able Flight’s Charles Stites said, “For years, our 2017 scholarship recipients have faced living with physical disabilities that present daily challenges, and now, they will face the challenge of becoming a licensed pilot. During their training they’ll learn what it means when we say our program is intensive and demanding. And when they are successful, they will have earned the privilege to share the wonder of flight.”

This is the eighth consecutive year of Able Flight’s partnership with Purdue, and the first year of its expansion to Ohio State University. Graduates of the “Class of 2017” will be guests of honor when they receive their Able Flight Wings on stage at EAA AirVenture, just weeks after becoming licensed pilots.


Able Flight Partners With Ohio State University

sky-arrow-5058-after-3504-x-2336Able Flight and Ohio State University will partner on a new flight training program for people with physical disabilities beginning in May, 2017. Able Flight’s Charles Stites said, “We are excited and honored to partner with a university aviation program with the history and stature of Ohio State. It is our hope that in addition to the high level flight training our students will receive, that they will also have the opportunity to explore the broad offering of aviation education opportunities at Ohio State.”

The program will begin with two Able Flight Scholarship recipients who will take part in an intensive six week program at the Ohio State University Airport in Columbus, Ohio, and who will be trained by Ohio State instructors. Ohio State University has one of the country’s premier flight training programs, and its graduates are represented throughout business, commercial and military aviation.

“The scholarships are awarded to individuals who have demonstrated the determination required to learn to fly. Our staff is looking forward to working with these highly motivated scholarship recipients,” said Brandon Mann, Ohio State Flight Education Director.

Beginning with meetings at EAA AirVenture this past July, Able Flight quickly discovered that Ohio State shared a goal of providing aviation opportunities for people with disabilities, and with this new partnership, Able Flight will now be able to expand its flight training program to a second university. Since 2010, Able Flight has had a continuing partnership with Purdue University to train Able Flight scholarship recipients, and 2017 will mark the eighth consecutive year of training at Purdue.

To learn more about aviation at Ohio State University, visit https://aviation.osu.edu/.

2016 Able Flight Pilots Get Their Wings

OSH 2016 Wings wide DanielsAble Flight had a full house on stage for our annual Wings Pinning ceremony at EAA AirVenture on July 26th, 2016.  On hand to congratulate the new pilots were family and friends, Able Flight sponsors, and special guest Patty Wagstaff, member of the Aviation Hall of Fame.

Pilots receiving their Able Flight Wings were Chris Sullivan, Johnny Ragsdale, Scott Earley, Shavon McGlynn, Justin Falls, Ethan Daffron, Bernard Dime, and Trevor Denning. Also honored were Shafeeq Moore  who will complete training in 2017, and Sgt. Adam Kisielweski (USMC-retired) who earned his Instrument rating this year with support of a career Flight Training scholarship from Able Flight.  Also  attending were flight instructors from Purdue, and Wesley Major, an Able Flight pilot from the Class of 2012 who is now a graduate student at Purdue and has served as the program’s onsite volunteer coordinator for four years.

 The ceremony also marked the 10th anniversary since the founding of Able Flight in May of 2006. Since July of 2007, Able Flight has awarded over 70 scholarships including flight training and aviation career training scholarships.
 The following pilots were selected as the recipients of named scholarships:
Johnny Ragsdale: Recipient of the Tempest/Able Flight Scholarship: Wings pinned by John and Arlene Herman
Justin Falls:  Recipient of the Shell Aviation/Able Flight Scholarship-Wings pinned by Stephane Cicollela and Paul Royko
Shavon McGlynn: Recipient of the Jet Aviation/Able Flight Scholarship: Wings pinned by Patty Wagstaff
Bernard Dime: Recipient of the Bombardier/Able Flight Scholarship: Wings pinned by Mark Sirbinski
Trevor Denning: Recipient of the ForeFlight/Able Flight Scholarship: Wings pinned by Tyson Weihs and Gus Bustillo
Sgt. Chris Sullivan’s Wings were pinned by Sgt. Adam Kisielewski
Scott Earley’s Wings were pinned by his wife Hyla

Ethan Daffron was honored as the recipient of the Tyrell Rhodes Memorial Scholarship and his Able Flight Wings were pinned by Charles Stites.

Brian Stirm of Purdue University was honored as the 2016 recipient of the Seidel Award given to those who provide outstanding volunteer service to Able Flight. Each year, Brian donates many hours to maintain the training aircraft used in our program at Purdue. Presenting the award was last year’s recipient, Chris Throndsen.

Special thanks to Andrew Ovans and Dick Knapinski of EAA for their assistance with the ceremony, and to Wayne Daniels for the photos.


Record Setting Number of Scholarships!

Johnny Ragland of North Carolina

Johnny Ragland of NC

In its 10th anniversary year, Able Flight has awarded a record-setting eight scholarships so that people with disabilities can become licensed pilots. The recipients of the 2016 flight training scholarships come from throughout the country and face challenges from a variety of physical disabilities.

This year’s class will train at Able Flight’s program at Purdue University and includes seven people who use wheelchairs due to the effects of injuries, and a young woman who is deaf.

Receiving scholarships are Johnny Ragland and Justin Falls of North Carolina, Ethan Daffron of Indiana, Scott Earley of Florida, Shafeeq Moore of Georgia, Bernard Dime of Arizona, Trevor Denning of Texas, and Shavon McGlynn of New York.

Able Flight’s Charles Stites said, “When I have the pleasure of calling to notify applicants of their awards, I tell them that they are about to embark on a journey that will change their lives forever. Our program is demanding and challenging, and that’s because we work with our partners at Purdue’s Department of Aviation Technology to make it so. When our students become licensed pilots, they know they have earned it.”

This is the seventh consecutive year of Able Flight’s partnership with Purdue, and the graduates of the “Class of 2016” will be guests of honor when they receive their Able Flight Wings on stage at EAA AirVenture on Tuesday, July 26th at 11a.m., just weeks after becoming licensed pilots.

Randy Green: Happily Defying Other’s Expectations

IMG_3390For a man who was born without hands or feet, Randy Green looks at what others may see as challenges as just another opportunity to prove his abilities.  On March 4th, 2016, he added another major accomplishment to his list of aviation achievements when he earned a career-changing King Air 300 series type rating.

In 2015, Randy received an Able Flight Career Scholarship to earn his Air Transport rating (ATP). That scholarship was made possible through the support of ForeFlight. Now with another Able Flight Career Scholarship made possible by the very generous donation of NC-based training facility FlyRight, and with additional funding provided by the TBMOPA Foundation, Randy continues to move up the business aviation ladder.
The King Air type rating is considered  by those who have earned it as one of the more difficult ones to master,  and the more than two week course at FlyRight is demanding, both in the classroom and in their Class D simulator. Randy is quick to note that earning his type rating was considerably more difficult than earning his ATP rating, and the fact that he did both in less than a year speaks to his willingness to put in the long hours it takes to achieve advanced ratings.

Now, this father of two young girls will be in search of an opportunity to use his new King Air rating to continue to provide for his family through his aviation career. He has come a long way from his first hours in the Ercoupe that his late father bought so that Randy and his brother could become pilots. But there’s no doubt that with Randy Green, there are more successes to come.

Our congratulations to Randy on his outstanding achievement!


The Amazing Story Of Randy Green

Randy Green in cockpit of twin

Randy Green

In April, Randy Green passed a check ride to earn his Air Transport Rating, the highest level a pilot can achieve. And though it’s a select group of those who have reached this status, it’s not rare. Except for a man born without hands or feet.

Randy’s remarkable aviation career began when his pilot father bought an Ercoupe so that his sons could learn to fly. He earned his Private certificate in 1994 and quickly followed with Instrument, Commercial and Flight Instructor ratings. In his first year of instructing he logged over 1000 hours teaching others to fly. Using no special prosthetic devices on his arms to help him manipulate the controls, he continued to add to his ratings becoming qualified to both fly and instruct in twin-engine aircraft. And of course,  to fly as a Commercial pilot, Randy needed a second class medical and several Statement of Demonstrated Ability (SODA) flights with the FAA to prove he could safely operate all controls on various airplanes.

From the beginning, Randy’s goal wasn’t to fly an airliner, he wanted to be a corporate pilot, and he followed his plan of building hours and ratings until he was a good candidate for a job transporting company executives and their customers.  But even with his accomplishments and obvious qualifications, he faced a multitude of challenges and denials until  landing that first job; when a company took a leap of faith that was well-rewarded. And when that business sold their plane, he soon found another job flying a Cessna 421 twin for a Missouri company. Randy Green with Cessna 421

Randy knew that to move up in business aviation he would need an ATP rating. Enter Able Flight. With his Able Flight Career Training Scholarship,  in late April of 2015 Randy Green completed training at a Texas flight school and passed yet another flight test, and has now accepted a new position flying for an Idaho-based business.  That means a move for Randy, his wife and two young children; a move they are willing to make to continue his dream of using his aviation career to provide for his family.

Randy’s story of success is a testament to a father who knew what his son was capable of , and to a son who believed in himself.  Congratulations to our newest Able Flight pilot, Randy Green.


Able Flight Pilot Featured on CBS This Morning

Ryan Kelly was serving in  the Army in Iraq when an IED took his right leg below the knee.  During his recovery at Walter Reed he was visited by a pilot who used a prosthetic leg, and that was all the inspiration he needed to use aviation to rebuild his life.

He is now a Medevac pilot  flying an air ambulance helicopter in Texas. And with his Able Flight  scholarships, he has become a fixed wing Private Pilot and will soon have his commercial and multi-engine ratings.  CBS Morning News profiled Ryan in a feature on Memorial Day, 2014. Watch his amazing story of returning from a catastrophic injury to working to save the lives of others.

Able Flight has now helped seven other wounded veterans like Ryan become pilots, and three more wounded or disabled veterans are in training right now. If you want to help Able Flight help others like Ryan, please donate to our scholarship fund.