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Able Flight Awards First Career Training Scholarship at Sun ‘N Fun

Lakeland, FL- NYC firefighter Paul Lampasso had injured his knee fighting a fire in Queens and was on limited duty when his brother Albert called him on the morning of September 11, 2001 and asked “Are you seeing this?” Albert was also a member of the FDNY and was off duty that morning. He told Paul he was on his way to pick him up, and the two brothers went to Ground Zero to see what they could do to help. And though his previous injury would soon lead to his forced medical retirement from the fire department, that morning and for days afterward, Paul Lampasso responded.

It was far from the first challenge faced by Paul. Years earlier he had attended Embry Riddle Aeronautical University with a goal of becoming a professional pilot when he was diagnosed with cancer.  At the time he had climbed the first rung on the flying ladder by earning his Private Pilot Certificate, but that’s where it stopped. He went home and eventually beat the disease, getting his health and strength back. But with the way the FAA looked at cancer in those days, flying professionally was no longer an easy option, so he joined the fire department where he served for eleven years.

Paul’s itch to be around airplanes wouldn’t go away, and after moving to Florida he found himself out at nearby small airports, meeting pilots and offering his help on their building or repair projects. And something else was constantly nagging at Paul. He wanted to find a way to pay his own way, and to get off disability income. Now, Paul returns to aviation with his selection as the first recipient of an Able Flight Career Training Scholarship funded with the support of Cessna Aircraft, an Able Flight sponsor since 2007.

Cessna CEO/President Jack Pelton presented Paul with his official scholarship letter in a ceremony at the Cessna display Sun ‘n Fun on Tuesday, March 29th. Also attending the ceremony were Paul’s wife Brenda, son Paul, daughter Kaitlin, Charles Stites of Able Flight, and Carol and Brian Carpenter of Rainbow Aviation.

In May, with his Able Flight Career Training scholarship paying the way, Paul will attend Rainbow Aviation’s Light Sport Repairman course in California. There he’ll be immersed in an intensive three-week course designed to teach maintenance and repair techniques for people to service the fast-growing Light Sport Aircraft industry.  And when he returns to Florida, he plans to have his FAA-issued Light Sport Repairman certificate in hand, his ticket to a new career in aviation.

Able Flight (www.ablefl is a national aviation nonprofit that provides flight and aviation career training opportunities for people with physical disabilities and is the only one of its kind in the United States.

Media contact: Charles Stites

April 2011 Light Aviation Edition

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