Ricci Family Foundation Allows Able Flight Program at Purdue University to Reach New Heights

Donation of Aircraft and Financial Support Gets Those with Disabilities Flying and Exposes Students to Career Opportunities in Aviation

WEST LAFAYETTE, IND., June 15, 2015 – In a ceremony at Purdue University Airport last week, the Ricci Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by aviation entrepreneur Kenn Ricci, made donations and commitments totaling over $300,000, including $150,000 over five years and a Sky Arrow L600 sport plane, to support the Able Flight program at Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Able Flight offers people with disabilities, many of them military veterans, the ability to challenge themselves through flight and aviation career training. The Ricci Family Foundation’s gift will support Able Flight and also encourage Purdue students to pursue careers in aviation.

Kenn Ricci speaks to students at Purdue Polytechnic Institute (Photo: Business Wire)

“As a longtime pilot myself, I am proud to be able to support Able Flight, which teaches those with disabilities to fly, instilling confidence and offering them the possibility of a career in aviation,” said Ricci, Principal of Directional Aviation and Chairman of its iconic private jet travel providers Flexjet, Flight Options, Sentient Jet and Skyjet as well as business jet remanufacturing pioneer Nextant Aerospace, and Constant Aviation, one of the nation’s fastest-growing maintenance, repair and operations (MROs) companies. “The men and women of Able Flight give those with disabilities wings to soar, and we are pleased to be able to support their work.”

In addition to the announcement of the Ricci Family Foundation’s gift to Able Flight, Purdue Polytechnic Institute’s Department of Aviation Technology hosted representatives from companies such as General Electric, Republic Airways and Envoy Air for a brainstorming session on opportunities in the aviation industry and how to attract students to careers in the field. The Ricci Family Foundation gift is structured to encourage Purdue students to explore aviation careers.

“I want to thank Kenn Ricci and the Ricci Family Foundation for their generosity, which will help us expand the Able Flight program while giving it a dependable source of funding for the next five years,” said Dr. John G. Wensveen, head of the Department of Aviation Technology. “I also thank the Ricci family for their support of initiatives to encourage Purdue students to pursue careers in aviation, helping us to build the next generation of pilots, aeronautical engineers and other aviation professionals.”

Students pose in front of the aircraft donated by the Ricci Family Foundation (Photo: Business Wire)

The specially equipped Sky Arrow L600 that the Ricci Family Foundation is donating to the Purdue Able Flight program is the ideal aircraft for teaching those with disabilities how to fly. The aircraft is one of the few models offering controls that are able to be flown without pedals and with hands only.

Currently, Purdue instructors are training four disabled student pilots as part of the Able Flight program that has helped dozens of disabled pilots solo and earn sport pilot certificates. Three of the current Purdue Able Flight students are at least partially paralyzed and two are U.S. military veterans. The Ricci Family Foundation’s gift will expand access to the Able Flight program and allow this number to grow.

In an effort to ensure the Able Flight program at Purdue continues to grow over five years, the Ricci Family Foundation will establish goals and metrics to measure its progress. Among the goals are expanding the college’s Able Flight program as well as exposing students in the Department of Aviation Technology to the career opportunities available to them in the aviation industry. Upon meeting all of the pre-determined goals, Purdue will be given full ownership of the Sky Arrow L600.

This gift follows a previous gift made by Ricci’s Nextant Aerospace of a pair of turbofan engines for its test cell research program. The department also operates a Nextant 400XTi, the world’s only remanufactured business jet, as part of its professional flight program.

About the Ricci Family Foundation

Under the stewardship of its founder and president, aviation entrepreneur Kenneth Ricci, Principal of Directional Aviation, the Ricci Family Foundation is a charitable organization focused on philanthropy, voluntarism and grant making to a wide range of worthy causes.

About Directional Aviation

Directional Aviation is a private investment firm whose singular focus is private business aviation. Combining strategic aviation ownership, unmatched experience and revolutionary vision, Directional continues to innovate and reshape private aviation. Directional’s unique industry expertise enables them to quickly understand business aviation companies and provide the financing and operational strategy needed to take advantage of evolving market opportunities. For more information, visit www.directionalaviation.com.

About Able Flight

Able Flight was created by pilots who believe that the life-changing experience of learning to fly is best shared, and designed the Able Flight Scholarships to enable people with disabilities to pursue that experience.

Members of the Able Flight Board of Directors and Advisory Board include a flight instructor, an Aviation Medical Examiner, a pilot who has provided thousands of free flights to young people, a veteran who flies his own plane with the aid of a prosthetic device, and a previous scholarship recipient.

Able Flight™ is incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, and is supported by the generous donations and sponsorships of individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information, visit ableflight.org/.

About Purdue Polytechnic Institute

The Purdue Polytechnic Institute, formerly the College of Technology, is one of 10 colleges at Purdue University offering undergraduate and graduate degrees. It includes seven academic schools, departments, and divisions focused on aviation, computing, technology management, and leadership and innovation.

Whether it’s delivering a transformed learning experience to produce industry-ready graduates who have the skills for today’s economy, or conducting use-inspired research to advance the evolution of technology and solve real-world challenges, the Purdue Polytechnic Institute aims to be a global leader. For more information, visit polytechnic.purdue.edu.

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