people seen in the cockpit of a small plane

SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin Lane and President Dan Mahony check out one of the new planes. (Below) Mahony, Able Flight founder Charles Stites and Lane celebrate the additions to the SIU fleet.

April 01, 2024

SIU Aviation receives two planes for partnership with Able Flight

The School of Aviation received two planes last week for SIU aviation instructors to train people with physical disabilities to become licensed pilots. 

able-flight-trio-sm2.jpgThe partnership with Able Flight, an aviation nonprofit, continues the university’s longstanding commitment to providing accessibility for people with disabilities. Five student pilots who have received Able Flight Scholarships will arrive in late May and stay in university housing during the program. 

The students will train in new specially adapted Vashon Ranger Light Sport Aircraft. SIU aviation faculty began training on the aircraft on March 29. The special controls to be used on the planes will be installed in late April before the students arrive. Charles Stites, who founded the incorporated nonprofit in 2006, noted the flight training program, “in a demanding but supportive setting,” will also allow students to explore opportunities for future undergraduate and graduate degrees in aviation.