PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Kaiya Armstrong lost her sight unexpectedly when she was 14 years old. Doctors still don’t know why. Now, the 21-year-old has an inspirational message to others as she takes to the skies. Though Kaiya is legally blind, she will fly across the country in just a few months.
“I could never just go out with friends or by myself,” Kaiya said. “I couldn’t go across the street to shop on my own.”
Faced with hardship, Kaiya continued to dream big, and now one of her dreams is becoming a reality. “I’m not proving just to the world but to myself too, but I was limiting myself before I found out about this; it’s a reminder to myself to stop putting limits on what I can do,” Kaiya said. “I can do anything, and so can anybody else.”
In October, Kaiya, alongside three flight instructors, will fly a plane across the country. “We are actually going to land in Washington DC on World Sight Day, and it’s the largest area for showing what our students do and pushing that perception in the greater world,” Jared Leslie with the Foundation for Blind Children said.
Through FBC, 25 candidates went through an interview process, including a test, written essay and video entry. “Three different categories Kaiya scored the highest across all three categories and was voted on by all of the FBC team,” explained Leslie.
Kaiya will do more than 120 hours of training. Tyler Sinclair with Leopard Aviation will be her right-hand man. “We will teach her how to start the engine, how to take off, land, fly, it’ll be everything a normal pilot does we are going to teach her to do,” Sinclair said. “It will be challenging, but it will be great.”
Kaiya’s textbooks will be in all braille. It’s a challenge she is ready for. “The fact that flying a plane visually impaired is something everyone has thought is impossible, even myself and my close family,” Kaiya said. “Throughout this whole process, I don’t think I’ve been scared once; I’ve just been ranging from excitement to shock back to excitement again.”