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Blind pilot takes off for Washington D.C. to prove limitations don't exist

Kaiya lost her sight when she was just 14 years old
Posted at 5:51 PM, Oct 07, 2022

PHOENIX — Pre-checks are underway at Falcon Field Airport on Friday. Twenty-one-year-old Kaiya Armstrong is readying her aircraft that is soon departing from Mesa and destined for Washington D.C.

“This is the mixture and the throttle, those are the master switches, and just to the right of those are the avionics,” said Kaiya, pointing out the controls from the cockpit.

Kaiya knows her stuff but what makes this pilot even more special is the fact that she lost her sight when she was 14 years old.

“There’s so many people out there that don’t realize that they don’t have limitations,” said Kaiya. “I want this flight to prove to everyone, to the world, to stop limiting yourself.”

Thanks to The Foundation for Blind Children, she’s been put through months of air and ground training alongside her co-pilot for the flight, Tyler Sinclair.

“The very first time we went up we spent a lot of time just listening to the engine itself, and learning what the different speeds sound like so I’d be able to find them on my own,” said Kaiya. “He’d have me put my hands on the controls and steer us into small turns and larger turns giving me a feel of both.”

She’d quickly take the controls, flying by feel under Tyler's watchful eyes.

“She’s flying the whole thing, I’m just there to kind of talk her through it, I barely touch the controls,” said Tyler who is her co-pilot to Washington D.C.

Kaiya has memorized the controls and dedicated herself to safely achieving the feat of piloting the aircraft across the country. She’ll take off and land at multiple airports as they traverse across nine states. Her parents tell ABC15, she has never let the lack of sight get in her way.

“If we went miniature golfing, she miniature golfed with us, I would just go down and tell her where to go, how to aim, bowling, she would bowl, ice skating she’s been ice skating, she just does things, just because you’re blind doesn’t mean you can’t do it,” said Kaiya’s mom Kamla.

After an embrace and short prayer with her parents, Kaiya fired up the engines as family and friends lined the taxiway. The signs they held say it all. No sight, no problem. As Kaiya soars above all expectations once again. They are expected to complete their journey over the next week.