Ben discovered flight at a young age; his father was a pilot and after many times flying with him Ben discovered a passion for being airborne. Although he was injured in a road accident at the age of two leaving him a paraplegic (new window), Ben knew instinctively from a very young age that he wanted to fly as a career.
As there were no other disabled pilots making a career in aviation in the UK at that time, he set out on the ultimate challenge to pursue his dreams. Ben has had the tenacity to overcome many challenges along the way, so becoming the first disabled pilot just seemed like another hurdle for him to jump through.
After thorough research, Ben discovered a school and training facility in California which used adapted aircraft with hand controls and he spent one year on an accelerated ground training course in 1998, then returned for two years in 2003-2004 to get his commercial flight and instrument training. In 2008 Ben was able to convert his Private Pilot’s License (new window) to an Ultralight (new window) License, had a Ultralight aircraft adapted and approved with hand controls, undertook vigorous training which included many hours in the air, instructor training and exams and subsequently became the first disabled fix wing ultra-light instructor in the UK.
Ben, a Canadian citizen, recently made the move to British Columbia, where he has found more acceptance as a person with a disability. His goal was to find an airfield that would let him teach Ultralight flying with hand controls. He came to the Neil Squire Society’s Burnaby office to find out how to write a resume that he could use to market himself. Ben began working one-on-one with Career Coach/Facilitator, Lissa. “We got him going with calling cards, some recommendations on places to network, etc., but he was pretty independent and capable,” says Lissa. “He started networking and before we knew it he was working,” says Chris, Program Coordinator for the Employ-Ability Program. He lives a short distance away from Chris, and one evening this past summer she ran into him. “He looked exhausted and told me with a grin that he was working 12-14 hour days because he had so many clients,” shares Chris.
Flying gives Ben the ultimate freedom and he loves to share his dream of learning to fly with others. Although many thought this goal a lofty one, Ben has achieved this goal, and now works as an Ultralight Flight Instructor for both abled and disabled clients in the Vancouver area.
We expect to hear more about this ambitious young man in the future!