Aircraft Gets Converted to Assist in Able Flight Program
Staff from the Purdue Polytechnic Institute’s School of Aviation and Transportation Technology (SATT) recently collaborated with aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel and the FAA to convert a glider into a Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA).
The reconfigured aircraft trains disabled, would-be pilots through the Able Flight program. The Pipistrel Sinus aircraft Features a side-by-side seating arrangement, which accommodated the training of a deaf student who needed to easily communicate with the flight instructor.
Before the coronavirus pandemic shut down nearly every element of human interaction, Purdue had been gearing up for the summer session of Able Flight, a program for aspiring pilots with physical disabilities.
Able Flight is a non-profit organization that works with Purdue’s SATT to provide men and women with disabilities the opportunity to attain a pilot certificate. Past Able Flight participants include people who are hearing-impaired and many who are in wheelchairs. These types of disabilities tend to slow people down as they interact on the ground however, in the air, the aircraft treats everyone as able-bodied. Purdue was looking forward to hosting this summer program for the 11th consecutive year.
The summer Able Flight program is based on the use of LSAs. LSAs are two-seat aircraft, with a maximum weight of 1,320 pounds, a maximum speed of 138 mph, and are perfectly fit to the mission of the Able Flight program because the planes are small, lightweight, and can be easily adapted for use. LSAs require a Sport Pilot Certificate to operate. Sport pilots do not need an FAA medical certificate to fly an aircraft. They can use their current driver’s license as proof that they are medically fit to fly.