Able Flight Pilots Growing Light Sport Market
Able Flight, a nonprofit providing sport pilot training to people with significant disabilities, is at Sun 'n Fun 2017 educating light sport aircraft makers about the demand for planes adapted for use by persons with disabilities. A basic adaptive airplane requires little more than a hand control for rudders and brakes. Many light sport aircraft already use handbrakes, which eases the conversion. Charles Stites, founder and executive director of Able Flight, says, “People are in the market for airplanes. They want to be able to continue flying after they get their license with Able Flight.”
Justin Falls, a 2016 graduate of Able Flight and a light sport pilot, is shopping for an airplane. Justin suffered a spinal cord injury resulting in loss of control in both legs and partial paralysis of his arms, but he told AVweb he doesn’t just want to be able to fly. He wants to be able to travel with a friend, so he’s in a market for a high-wing airplane with a side-by-side seating configuration. The side-by-side seating creates storage space for a wheelchair, and the high-wing design makes it easier for him to get into or out of the plane without assistance. Since completing his checkride, Falls says, “I don’t feel paralyzed. The wheelchair is on the ground and I’m in the air.”
Listen to our interview with Charles and Justin below.