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First Wounded Warrior Able Flight Scholarship Winner Earns Pilot's Certificate

May 22, 2008 — When Staff Sergeant Ryan Kelly lost his right leg below the knee in July of 2003 in Ramadi, Iraq, he held little hope that he would fulfill his goal of flying helicopters. But the decorated veteran not only returned to the United States and earned a degree at Embry Riddle in Arizona, he earned his helicopter and helicopter CFI certificates as well. Now, using his Able Flight Scholarship, he has become a fixed-wing pilot, and will soon be an instructor in airplanes with a goal of teaching others with disabilities how to fly.

Kelly did his fixed-wing training at Philly Sport Pilot, LLC, the flight school created by Sean O' Donnell (EAA 831911) after he passed his sport pilot check ride on EAA AirVenture opening day last year. Philly Sport Pilot provides both sport and private flight training for disabled and able-bodied student pilots.

"I really enjoyed training in Philly," Kelly said. "It was a great mix of small airports full of character, and busy airspace that allowed me to keep up on the radio procedures. Being able to fly in Sean's aircraft was really cool."

Thanks to the Able Flight scholarship, he became a fixed-wing pilot and will soon be an instructor in airplanes with a goal of teaching others with disabilities how to fly. "It's great to see how a scholarship winner can 'complete the circle'" he said. "It's a real motivation for me to get my fixed-wing CFI so I can give back also."

Able Flight, announced at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2005, was created to provide disabled people with -training scholarships toward becoming sport pilots. For more information, visit www.AbleFlight.org.

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