Able Flight’s mission is to offer people with disabilities a unique way to challenge themselves through flight and aviation career training, and by doing so, to gain greater self-confidence and self-reliance.
Able Flight was created by pilots who believe that the life-changing experience of learning to fly is best shared, and designed the Able Flight Scholarships to enable people with disabilities to pursue that experience.
Able Flight™ is incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, and is supported by the generous donations and sponsorships of individuals, foundations and corporations.
Charles H. Stites
Charles served as the Manager of Temser, Inc., a nonprofit transitional employment corporation based in NC. He later served as a Senior Projects Manager for GTE (later Verizon) in their media production division. He was the national volunteer coordinator and NC Flag Bearer for the EAA’s 50 Flags to Kitty Hawk project in 2003, and has been a writer/photographer for a number of U.S. and European aviation publications. Charles founded Able Flight in 2006 and is responsible for its operations. Charles is a licensed pilot.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ryan is an Emergency Medical Helicopter Pilot in Austin, TX where he lives with his wife Helena and their two children. Ryan is a wounded Iraq war veteran, and was the first veteran to obtain his sport pilot certificate with an Able Flight Scholarship. He has also obtained his private and instrument ratings in airplanes, along with his commercial, instrument and instructor ratings in helicopters.
Steve Merritt (December 1947-December 2017)
Steve was the airport manager at the Franklin County, NC airport and previously served as a Projects Manager at the North Carolina Division of Aviation. He was also an FAA Aviation Safety Counselor and Gold Seal flight instructor. As a flight instructor, Steve coordinated and monitored the training programs at Able Flight’s selected flight schools in order to accommodate the special training needs of selected students. Steve passed away in December, 2017.
Julia served as the Executive Director of Mid-Atlantic Venture Association (MAVA), and previously served as Vice-President at Columbia Capital and Vice-President of GTE Corporation where she managed philanthropic efforts, including those of the GTE Corporate Foundation. Julia is a licensed pilot.
Bernie served as an associate professor of aviation technology at Purdue University beginning in 1992 after flying for an airline based in the Caribbean. Previously he was a student at Purdue where he earned a master’s degree in special education and started a flight training program with Lafayette Aviation at Purdue’s airport. He was honored as the recipient of the Dwyer Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching and the Outstanding Tenured Faculty Award. In the summer of 2010, he helped bring Able Flight to Purdue, establishing a partnership that has enabled many Able Flight Scholarship recipients to become pilots. Bernie recently retired and now works with his wife in animal rescue and still flies his 1953 Piper SuperCub.
Charles Stites (see above)
Matt is the Regional Marketing Director at Jetcraft Corporation. Prior to joining Jetcraft, Matt worked for over 18 years at Bombardier Aerospace where he held various positions in their Business Aircraft, Flexjet and Commercial Aviation Services divisions.
Jeff is a family physician in Denver CO, a past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the board chair of the Amputee Coalition. A bilateral below knee amputee, Jeff flies vintage aircraft and was awarded the gold medal in adaptive slalom snowboarding at the first US Snowboarding National Championships.
Adam is a Marine Corps Sergeant (retired) who was wounded while serving in Iraq in 2005, losing his left arm at the shoulder and his right leg below the knee. He earned his pilot certificate in 2012 as the recipient of an Able Flight Scholarship, and prior to entering Mount St. Mary’s University, Adam served as Vice President of Operation Second Chance.
Sean is an Able Flight scholarship award recipient, and was the second recipient to earn a pilot’s certificate. He was the Director of Distance Learning Education at Villanova University, and the founder of Philly Sport Pilot, a training facility for Sport Pilots, including people with disabilities.
Patrick is based in Knoxville, Tennessee where he serves as the Executive Director of Global Marketing for Cirrus Aircraft. He provides the vision and direction for all aspects of marketing, media, public relations and communications for Cirrus Aircraft globally. Prior to joining Cirrus, Sniffen served as Vice President Marketing for Signature Flight Support and he began his aviation career at Jet Aviation where he served as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Americas. Sniffen holds a Masters of Business Administration in Finance and Marketing from Palm Beach Atlantic College, a Bachelors of Science in Graphic Design from Rochester Institute of Technology and he holds a Commercial Instrument Pilot license and enjoys flying regularly.
Bob serves as CEO of Alerion Aviation, and previously served as Senior Vice President/General Manager of Jet Aviation’s U.S. Charter Services. Prior to joining Jet Aviation, Bob served as a Regional Sales Director for Gulfstream Aerospace and Galaxy Aerospace. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and holds a master’s degree in Business Management from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. He began his career in aviation as a Naval Flight Officer operating P3 Anti-Submarine Aircraft in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Bob is a licensed pilot.
Able Flight™ is a 501 c (3) nonprofit founded in 2006
Federal Tax ID: 20-5001037