"I am an avid traveler. I have visited more countries in my wheelchair than I have able-bodied," Leslie says.
According to Because of Them We Can, Leslie Irvy, an African-American young lady with a disability, received her pilot's license last month. And, well, she became the first black woman with a disability to have achieved the feat.
Like her idol Bessie Coleman, Leslie too started flying aircraft from the age of 16. "I started flying when I was 16 at my local airport here in Atlanta. There is a program operated through OBAP, called ACE (Aviation Career Enrichment), whose purpose is to introduce aviation to young African American children. In ACE, I flew a Cessna 172. Through that program, I was selected to participate in an elite group of aviators to be a part of a summer flight line program at Falcon Field, in Peachtree City. Through that experience I was able to fly a more streamline aircraft (Diamond 20) and gain more flight hours," said Leslie.
However, her life took a steep turn when she met with a head-on car accident in 2013. She was rendered paralyzed and ultimately became wheelchair-bound. She lived in the hospital for more than a year for her treatment but her dreams to fly again never faded. In fact, she considered her wheelchair-bound existence as a blessing and waited for the day she could fly again.
"I am an avid traveler. I have visited more countries in my wheelchair than I have able-bodied. One day while flying I had the epiphany that I should be the one flying myself to some of these places. Why spend hundreds of dollars on an airline when I can fly myself?"
Later, she came across a program called Able Flight that trained people with disabilities to fly aircraft. She signed up for the program and the rest is history.
"I was selected among nine other aviators to be apart of Able Flight's 10th-anniversary class. We started our flight training at Purdue University on May 18. On June 1, I completed my first solo flight. On June 28, I passed my check ride and received my official sport pilot's license!"