Orientation and Mobility Training to Fly a Plane
How an Orientation and Mobility instructor and former pilot is playing a role in Flight for Sight
By Chloe Ranshaw
Fred Hall, a Teacher of the Visually Impaired and Orientation & Mobility instructor, joined Foundation for Blind Children in 2021 with a unique hidden talent that would later support Flight for Sight.
Before Foundation for Blind Children, Fred worked as a classroom teacher in Wyoming. He stuck around after completing FBC’s Orientation & Mobility internship. “I fell in love with the students”, says Fred. Additionally, he fell in love with meeting students “where they’re at” to help grow their independence.
Orientation and mobility for the blind or visually impaired is the ability to use remaining senses to travel safely and independently. To accomplish this, Fred typically works with students in their respective school districts from kindergarten to tenth grade. Sessions can range from 30 minutes every week to an hour every other month depending on a students’ needs.
New to Fred’s caseload this year is a special student, Kaiya Armstrong. Kaiya is blind and training to independently fly from Phoenix, Ariz. to Washington, D.C. to inspire others with visual impairments. Fred and Kaiya work together twice a week for two hours. Moreover, Fred makes study materials from flight training and ground school accessible to increase Kaiya’s efficiency when studying.
“The next time I thought I would be teaching would be around retirement”, says Fred about the training sessions. Coincidentally, Fred is a certified pilot. He obtained his license in 2014 “just for fun”. The unique skill, knowing how to fly a plane, has surprisingly come in handy and Fred enjoys the break from his normal routine.
During sessions, Fred uses a small model airplane to help Kaiya visualize concepts. For example, the kinds of spins a plane can devolve into after stalling. One spin is a “flat spin” where the plane spins like a top. “It’s really hard to grasp but to understand what’s going on without having to experience it is really good”, says Kaiya with a laugh.
Fred and Kaiya will continue to share their passion for planes as they prepare for Kaiya’s flight through Phoenix, Colorado Springs, Kansas City and Louisville ending in Washington D.C. in October. Fred says, “I think people forget that most anything is attainable with a lot of hard work. Even more so for Kaiya to take this on but she will get it done.”