February 2, 2023



1. Who can apply?

Any U.S. citizen seventeen years old or older with a physical disability that significantly impairs function can apply. Able Flight has awarded scholarships to people who use wheelchairs due to spinal cord injury, wounded veterans, people with a variety of congenital birth defects, and people who have lost limbs.

2. How do I apply for a scholarship?

First, please read all of the questions and answers on this page. Then visit the Scholarships page on this website and you’ll find several versions of a downloadable application form.  Read the description of each type of scholarship and choose the form that best applies to your situation. You’ll find instructions on the form.

3. What are the medical requirements?

A valid and current state driver’s license is required for training under the Sport Pilot certification rule. You must be following any restrictions that your state has placed on your driver’s license. If you have previously taken an FAA medical exam and been denied, a driver’s license may not be used until after the first successful FAA medical exam.

4. Will I need to supply medical records?

No. In fact, our application form very clearly states that you should not supply medical records, only a simple statement from your physician as to the nature of your disability.

5. When will I hear if I’ve been selected?

Able Flight reviews applications on a rolling basis after the application deadline for full flight training scholarships, and throughout the year for other scholarships. You will be notified via email that we have received your application and if everything is in order. Your application will receive an initial review and then you’ll be contacted if you are selected for an interview. Those not initially selected for an interview will be notified and may be asked if they’d like to have their application considered again in the next round of reviews. After interviews, a scholarship review committee will consider the finalists’ applications and make awards as appropriate.

6. What license can I earn?

Flight training scholarships are for training that can lead to a Sport Pilot Certificate (see more below). Career training scholarships may be used  to earn an FAA-issued Light Sport Repairman Certificate with Maintenance rating,  the FAA Dispatcher License, or at the discretion of the scholarship committee, it may be used towards academic expenses while training for an aviation career (aviation management, air traffic control, etc.).

7. What does the scholarship cover?

Our full scholarships cover flight and ground training, testing fees, study materials,  and lodging and travel as required.  Recipients of full scholarships receive a complete ground school self-study package shortly after their selection. Career training scholarships cover course fees, testing fees, and  may cover travel and lodging as required.

8. What expenses are not covered by the scholarship?

Scholarships do not include local transportation to and from the airport or career training site and meals while training.

9. Where and when would I train?

Flight training is conducted at Able Flight’s joint training program at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Training takes place from mid-May until early July of each year. Students are required to remain on-site during the entire training period – no exceptions are allowed. Career training can take place at a number of locations at different times throughout the year.

10. Is accessible housing available?

Yes, students are housed in accessible rooms according to their needs.

11. Is there a personal weight limitation?

On average, applicants should not weigh more than 200 pounds.  Here’s why: The Light Sport Aircraft used to train for the Sport Pilot Certificate have a useful load (weight carrying capacity for people, fuel, etc.) of between 400 and 500 pounds. Depending on the plane, when you deduct 80-100 pounds for fuel, that leaves between 300-400 pounds for instructor and student combined.

12. How long does it take to earn a license?

It varies according to the student. While the FAA has set a minimum number of hours required to obtain a Sport Pilot Certificate, Able Flight has found that to train to a higher standard, additional hours are required. For scholarship recipients who train for a Sport Pilot Certificate  the average time is 7 to 8 weeks.

13. When do I study for the ground school test?

Scholarship recipients complete a computer-based, online ground school course provided by a generous sponsor of Able Flight  and take the online FAA Knowledge Exam prior to arriving for flight training. During their flight training they receive refresher training so help prepare them for the extensive oral exam portion of the check ride (known as the Practical exam).

14. What if I need special adaptations for the training aircraft?

Before an applicant is selected, Able Flight determines if an appropriately-adapted training aircraft exists that will meet their needs.

15. How hard is it to learn to fly?

Learning to fly is demanding, but certainly within reach of those who are up to the challenge. There are long hours of ground school study and many hours in the air learning to control the airplane. This is not a program for people who are seeking a “weekend adventure” experience, but a program for people who are willing to work hard and remain committed to earning the privilege of becoming a pilot. Our program is for people who will dedicate themselves to becoming a pilot. It is not a part time program. It’s not easy, in fact, it is demanding and challenging, and that’s by design. We want our pilots to be good, safe and very competent, so we ask our training partners to go well beyond the minimum standards required by the FAA.

16. I want to learn to fly because it’s on my “bucket list”. Will the scholarship committee think that’s a good reason?

That’s a tough question to answer because a “bucket list” can mean different things to different people. So before you apply, ask yourself what your future aviation plans are. If you simply want to tick off a one-time accomplishment, how will your application be compared to that of someone whose dreams and plans for the future include aviation?

17. What is the deadline for applying?

Applications for all types of scholarships are accepted year round, but December 31st is the deadline  for a full flight training scholarship for training  that begins each May at Purdue University. Applications received after December 31st for a full flight training scholarship will be considered for the following year.


1. Is Able Flight a flight school?

Able Flight is a scholarship organization. It is not a flight school. We work with selected partners that provide the training.

2. Who supports Able Flight?

We are supported through the generous donations of individuals, corporate sponsorships and foundation grants.

3. What is Able Flight’s nonprofit status?

Able Flight is a 501 c 3 nonprofit under IRS rules, and donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Our Federal Tax ID is 20-5001037.

4. How can I support Able Flight?

It’s easy to make a donation on our website, or by sending a check to:

Able Flight
91 Oak Leaf Lane
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

5. Where can I learn more about Able Flight?

This website has a lot of good information on Able Flight. Visit the “About Us” page to learn more about the people behind the organization, and visit Great Nonprofits to read what our scholarship recipients, sponsors, donors and volunteers have to say about Able Flight.


1. What is the Sport Pilot Certificate?

The Sport Pilot Certificate is an FAA issued pilot’s license.

2. Can I carry passengers as a Sport Pilot?

Yes, Sport Pilots are certified to fly two-seat Light Sport Aircraft and can carry a passenger.

3. What are “Light Sport Aircraft”?

Light Sport Aircraft are also known as “LSAs”. There are over 100 approved models. They are two seat aircraft with a maximum weight of 1320 pounds, a maximum speed of 138 mph, and when flown by a pilot with a Sport Pilot Certificate, can be flown under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) during daytime hours.

4. How much weight can an LSA carry?

LSAs typically have a useful load of between 400 and 500 pounds, so depending on the plane, when you deduct from 80-100 pounds for fuel, that leaves between 300-400 pounds for instructor and student combined.

5. Where can I go to learn more about Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft?

Visit here for information on the Sport Pilot Rule and Light Sport Aircraft.