Foundation for Blind Children selects a pilot out of 25 candidates to participate in Flight for Sight.

 

PHOENIX – “I’ve missed out on so many things since I was 14”, says 21-year-old Kaiya Armstrong.

Kaiya is legally blind and recently graduated from Foundation for Blind Children’s Adult Services program. Before attending FBC, she had no mobility training, independent living skills, or even a diagnosis. “I never went anywhere without my mom. For seven years, she was my eyes.”, says Kaiya.

She continues, “I never had the independence most teenagers get by going out with friends or getting their license, and just being a teenager.  Through FBC I’ve regained my confidence, independence, and my freedom. FBC has given me the tools to help me do whatever I dream of.”

Kaiya’s next dream? Flying a plane.

FBC believes in challenging our students and the visually impaired community to raise their expectations through Challenge Events. Our students have sailed the Caribbean, summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, and rafted the Grand Canyon. Now, for the first time, they will fly.

Kaiya was selected out of 25 blind or visually impaired candidates with ambitions to pilot a plane across multiple states as part of Flight for Sight, FBC’s latest Challenge Event to raise awareness around vision loss. Candidates underwent a multi-part interview process including a test, written essay, video entry, and panel interview.

“Typically, our Challenge Events consist of multiple participants. So, narrowing down to one student was not an easy one. The applicants had to demonstrate a comfort level of riding in a small plane, the ability to process information quickly, confidence, and a strong personal statement. Kaiya completed each of these requirements with the highest scores out of all applicants. I’m confident Kaiya will be a great representative of FBC and the visually impaired community as a whole”, says Spencer Churchill, Transition Services Manager at Foundation for Blind Children and Flight for Sight organizer.

Over the next few months, Kaiya will attend ground school and in-air flight training to prepare. She will use the same devices and tools as a sighted pilot, albeit differently, to accommodate her needs.

On World Sight Day in October, Kaiya will fly beside, a licensed pilot and certified flight instructor, from Phoenix, Ariz. to Washington, D.C in a Cessna aircraft provided by Leopard Aviation.

For inquiries or interview requests contact Chloe Ranshaw at marketing@seeitourway.org or 480-639-8088.

 

About Foundation for Blind Children

The Foundation for Blind Children was founded in 1952 by parents of blind children who wanted services for their blind children in Phoenix, instead of having to send them to the State Institution for the Blind in Tucson.

FBC serves the blind and visually impaired of all ages in Arizona, from birth to 102 years old, our oldest current client. As the only agency of its kind in Arizona, the Foundation for Blind Children is an essential resource to children, families and adults with blindness or low vision.

With three Valley locations (East Valley, West Valley and Central Phoenix), we strive to serve as “the” community’s resource for blind, visually impaired, and multi-handicapped children, adults, and their families.

 

About Leopard Aviation, FBC’s flight training school partner:

Leopard Aviation is a family owned and operated flight school. Our mission is to produce the best trained pilots in the sky while maintaining a fun and professional training environment.  We know that great flight instructors train great student pilots who go on to be great CFIs themselves — and the cycle continues.

Leopard Aviation flight school is certified to provide flight training under Part 61 of the FAA guidelines.  We provide flight instruction in the best aircraft available with the latest technology; the Cessna172S Skyhawks with glass cockpit with state-of-the-art G1000 avionics, GFC700 autopilot, and ADS-B in and out for the added situational awareness and safety.