PHOENIX — Jorge Castro, Kaiya Armstrong, and Adam Frackiewicz all have three important things in common. Each have a yearning for adventure, massive ambition, and live their lives visually impaired.
“Pushing my own boundaries, it gives me confidence,” said Adam, born with retinopathy prematurity.
“You got to be fearless as well,” seconded Jorge, who was born with congenital glaucoma.
“In my family, I’m described as the adrenaline junkie,” said Kaiya, who began losing her sight as a teen.
This fall, one of them could be co-piloting a plane from Phoenix to Washington, D.C. as part of The Foundation for Blind Children’s “Flight for Sight” event. It’s the latest in a long line of “challenges” officials with the FBC believe encourages their students to push their limits.
“In 2009, we had team Kili set four world records for youngest blind climber, first blind United States veteran, first climber with albinism, and largest blind group to summit the tallest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro,” said Spencer Churchill with the FBC, a non-profit organization providing education, tools and services that enable all persons with vision loss to achieve greater independence.
Spencer is a longtime employee and has been there alongside his students during a number of challenges that at first glance seemed impossible for someone with a visual impairment — from kayaking and hiking the Grand Canyon, to swimming San Francisco Bay from Alcatraz.
Their mission with Flight for Sight is to take the mentality of "anything’s possible," to new heights. Currently the FBC has identified 20 students with their program eager to make the trip. However, only one will be chosen.
“The student will be trained to fly in the left seat as the pilot in charge,” said Spencer.
Over the next few months, the student chosen will go through extensive ground and air flight training; eventually leading to the ability to take off, fly the plane for thousands of miles, and land. An expert pilot will also be by their side just in case.
“To be able to pilot a plane from here to Washington, D.C., to be able to prove to the world that there really isn’t a limit, that’s unbelievable,” said Kaiya.
For all three, the thought of it is almost too good to be true.
“It would feel like I just hit it big in the lotto or something,” said Jorge.
“Knowing I have a chance of doing this, it’d be a dream come true,” Adam agreed.
In a few short months, that dream could be a reality. If all goes to plan, takeoff for Washington, D.C. is currently set for October.