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EAA Grateful for Our Nation's Veterans

Able Flight helps wounded veteran earn aviation career

Chris at Rainbow

November 10 2011 – On Veterans Day, November 11, 2011, EAA expresses its sincere gratitude to all veterans for their service and sacrifice to preserve the freedoms we all cherish in the United States of America.

One veteran who has triumphed over injuries sustained in Iraq is Chris Gschwendtner, who suffered two traumatic brain injuries from a rocket attack in the space of six weeks. Thanks to an Able Flight Career Training Scholarship, he’s now working in an aircraft maintenance shop in Maryland.

After his injuries he made it his mission to continue serving in the Army Reserves, and prove he can still excel as a student - this time in aviation. Studying doesn't come as easily for the recipient of two Purple Hearts as it did when he earned a degree from Penn State, so Chris simply works harder. That's how he became a sport pilot, and that's how he has now become a certified light-sport repairman.

With tuition and expenses paid through his Able Flight Career Training Scholarship, Chris graduated, scoring a 98 on his final exam, at Rainbow Aviation in California. Within days he was hired by the maintenance department at Chesapeake Sport Pilot near his home in Maryland.

"Chris is an outstanding example of why we created this scholarship," said Charles Stites of Able Flight. "With the help of a generous donor we paid for his training, and Chris has now proven he deserved the opportunity. During his training at Rainbow Aviation I heard that he didn't even take a weekend day off. He just kept pushing himself to learn as much as he could. Now his dedication has paid off with his new job at Chesapeake Sport Pilot."

Of his scholarship and his new career, Gschwendtner said, "This opportunity has opened so many new doors for me. I hope that I can live up to that and make all the people that make Able Flight possible very proud. I want to thank them once again for seeing the potential in me and giving me this amazing opportunity."

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