Photo Gallery 1 Images
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Four people with various disabilities will spend the next several weeks earning their pilot's license at Purdue University. It's all made possible through the Able Flight Program.
News 18 caught up with the program's first quadruple amputee and shares how he's adapting to earn his wings.
"Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve," said Kory Puderbaugh. "I truly believe that."
Puderbaugh has overcome a lot of odds. The quadruple amputee came to the United States after living in a Polish orphanage.
The 22 year-old earned a silver medal in the Rio Paralympics and has traveled the world playing wheelchair rugby.
His next journey has brought him to the Purdue University Airport.
"It's just another thing that I can add to my bucket list and say, 'I can fly,'" Puderbaugh said.
Puderbaugh is one of four people selected for this year's Able Flight Program at Purdue. The national nonprofit organization allows people with disabilities to earn their wings.
Puderbaugh will spend the next six weeks doing so.
"My mom was a little nervous at first," he said. "She said, 'You're going to fly a plane with two fingers?' and I said, 'Yep.'"
This is the ninth year its partnered with Purdue University, which serves as the primary training site.
"They keep you busy here, but you learn a lot and you meet a lot of great people," Puderbaugh added.
Modifications are made to the planes to fit each individual's need.
"I don't have feet. So, the rudders are not used by feet they're used by my arms," said Puderbaugh. "So, just learning all of the controls is what we're going after right now."
By the end of June, they're officially pilots. Program Coordinator Lucero Duran said it's amazing to see the progress from start to finish.
"I just love it," said Duran. "I love to see the smile on their face, to see when they first solo, you know the big smile."
It's something that Puderbaugh is looking forward to.
"To be able to actually make flying a become a reality, not just a simulator, is incredible," Puderbaugh added.
Puderbaugh said he wants to use his new skill to travel the world, helping others in underdeveloped countries.