Freedom in the Air (FITA) in partnership with Phab are proud to announce the availability of a National Private Pilots Licence (NPPL) scholarship to be awarded in 2014. Generous Funding for this joint programme has been provided by The Florian Charitable Trust. The primary aim is simply to enable a young disabled person to realise their full potential through the pleasure and thrill of flying. The funding will be used to pay for 45 hours of dual flight instruction; 100 hours ground school, written exams, and accommodation. The scholarship will take place at FITA’s newly created and all inclusive and accessible aeroplane production facility at Birchwood in Yorkshire.

Spearheaded by Modifly, the unique aspect to Birchwood is that it has been designed and built applying concepts of Universal design so both able bodied and disabled people can work alongside each other and benefit from the set up. From making adapted aeroplanes to flying them, Birchwood has not only designed the production facility to be accessible but also the residential accommodation.

Phab has been in existence for 56 years and is a leading national charity committed to promoting and encouraging people with and without disabilities to take part in a wide range of activities. Phab has worked with FITA before. Their working partnership has seen what a huge difference flying can make to a person’s life. Many people with disabilities are constantly being told they won’t be able to join in or take part, and the thought of flying an aeroplane seems completely out of reach.

Learning to fly is a great way to change people’s lives, building confidence and re-igniting self-belief. For many people with disabilities, flying an aeroplane is empowering. People feel free, liberated from their disability with nothing to hold them back. There are no differences between disabled pilots and able-bodied pilots. In the air, everyone is equal. If you can fly an aeroplane, then you can do anything

The Freedom Flying scholarship will be a fantastic opportunity for a young person from Phab to learn to fly in a supportive environment, to learn a new skill and gain a qualification which would benefit them throughout their lives. FITA is committed to opening horizons for people with disabilities so that they can fly higher socially, physically and professionally.

Flying is one of the few activities where people with physical disabilities can participate to the same degree as an able-bodied person. The exhilarating experience builds confidence and self-esteem. This, in turn, empowers people to explore their potential by extending their personal boundaries by learning to fly and can achieve either a Class 2 Medical, required for the Private Pilots Licence (PPL), or a GP Medical declaration for those undertaking the National Private Pilots Licence (NPPL), then we can teach you to become a commander of General Aviation (GA) aeroplanes.

Stephen_Hawking.StarChildThe first ever World Report on Disability, produced jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, suggests that more than a billion people in the world today experience disability. People with disabilities have generally poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is largely due to the lack of services available to them and the many obstacles they face in their everyday lives.

“I realize that I am very lucky, in many ways. My success in theoretical physics has ensured that I am supported to live a worthwhile life. It is very clear that the majority of people with disabilities in the world have an extremely difficult time with everyday survival, let alone productive employment and personal fulfilment” comments Professor Stephen W Hawking

To have access to one of the top flying schools in the UK is remarkable; for people with disabilities such extra curricular activities are normally completely inaccessible.

Rebecca Hargreaves, National Projects Manager, Phab commented this is a very exciting opportunity for our Phab members. I have seen first hand what a difference flying can make to a person’s confidence and this scholarship will not only enable someone to gain an amazing practical skill but also challenge limitations and give them a fantastic sense of achievement.”

FITA founder Gautam Lewis, who uses crutches after contracting polio as a child in India, wants to show people disability is not a barrier to achievement. As an orphan growing up in the care of Mother Teresa, in Kolkata, he believes that his calling in life is to help others less fortunate and celebrate in the spirit that the sky’s the limit.

He said: “I want to do something positive to support disabled people, help them learn new skills and push them to a new level of confidence so that they can have opportunities. It’s very different from managing rock stars like Peter Doherty which is what I was once doing.

“It’s trying to show what we can do regardless of disability.”

Donald Putnam, Senior instructor at FITA, said: Both myself and our organisation are keen to support the promotion of aviation to disabled people. We are happy to do as much as we can to help disabled people become pilots. As an instructor, I am naturally keen to encourage anyone to learn to fly.”

Together we intend to show that anyone can reach for the skies, and achieve virtually anything, sometimes with only the very smallest amount of support. Let talent fly.

FITA is very proud to be partnered with Pooleys Flight Equipment, Loop iPad Magazine, Airbox Aerospace, Flight Training News, Airplan Flight Equipment, Sennheiser Aviation, Swift Aircraft and Pilot Magazine, Modifly and Condor Aviation.

Press Enquiries, image and interview requests:

Gautam Lewis, Director, FITA
gautam [at]

Freedom films on YouTube | Freedom Facebook Page | Freedom Tweets on Twitter | #YouHaveControl

Rebecca Hargreaves, National Projects Manager, Phab

E: rebecca.hargreaves [at]

Visit Phab website

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