EAA Chapter and Pilots with Disabilities Need Your Support

Two groups have banded together for a common goal with EAA Chapter 1083 and John Robinson, the founder of AV84all.org, to build a Zenith CH 750 Cruzer in Salisbury, North Carolina. Since the mid 1990's, EAA Chapter 1083 has had a primary goal of outreach activities focused on young people and they are expanding their programs in a big way to help pilots with disabilities have an opportunity to fly.

"As we look for ways to expand our outreach programs, we can think of no better way than to lend our skills and expertise to a group of people who otherwise may never get to experience the joy of flight. Being an aviator is about more than flying an aircraft.  It’s about giving back to our communities and making sure that anyone with the slightest desire to fly has the opportunity to do so. Without accessible aircraft, there is an entire demographic of potential pilots left by the wayside.  The challenge of building an aircraft is nothing when compared to the lifetime of freedom given to those who will fly her." - Lance Berrier, EAA Chapter 1083 Vice President

John Robinson earned his pilot's license through the Able Flight organization in 2015 (click here to learn about John's story). After obtaining his pilot's license he wanted to continue on the journey of making general aviation accessible for all people with disabilities. He formed the non-profit organization, AV84all.org, and this group build project is the first step in allowing pilots with disabilities to form a flying club with a Zenith aircraft. Other future goals for AV84all.org include a ground school, trial flights, flight training, simulator sessions, and more!

"EAA Chapter 1083 is literally making a dream come true for AV84all.org. Without their help it would take a lot longer to get this project off of the ground and they are making flying for the disabled a reality." - John Robinson, Founder of AV84all.org

Your help is needed to make this project a reality for all pilots with disabilities. Tax deductible donations are being accepted now for kit parts, tools, engine, and avionics for this project at www.av84all.org/donate or by contacting John Robinson at 704.302.3276.

“It’s aviation.  Aviators help Aviators.” – Lester Bradway, EAA Chapter 1083 Member


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Comment by Zenith Aero on October 25, 2018 at 10:00am

Great to see this airplane fly!

First Flight: AV84ALL's Zenith CH 750 Cruzer. October 21, 2018

John Robinson's Zenith CH 750 Cruzer, powered by a 130-hp Viking engine (Honda conversion), with adapted hand controls.

"I and five dedicated volunteers from EAA Chapter 1083 have built a Zenith 750 Cruzer airplane. In keeping with our mission goals, we made a few adaptations to make this aircraft accessible for disabled pilots: we adapted the rudder pedals to be manipulated by a control stick located between the pilot's legs. Also located on that same stick is a potentiometer throttle and braking action. Aileron and elevator are controlled by a stick located between the pilot and copilot and is not adapted.
"On Sunday, October 21, all that work payed off when our Zenith left the earth for the first time. It was amazing to see something that was a pile of metal turned into a complex flying machine. I look forward to sitting in the pilot seat, taking the controls, and leaving the earth again."

Background: John Robinson of North Carolina followed his service in the Navy by beginning a career as a law enforcement officer. While driving home from a training session he had an auto accident that resulted in him becoming a quadriplegic. For the independent young man it was not only a devastating physical blow, but an emotional one as well. Instead of being on his own, he was forced to move into his mother's home as he learned how to deal with his new life. But John was determined to make the best of what he had been dealt, and not only earned his masters degree, he taught special education students for a number of years. In 2015 he was awarded an Able Flight scholarship and earned his pilot certificate as a member of Able Flight's "Class of 2015" at Purdue. At a ceremony at EAA AirVenture, John was honored as the 2015 recipient of the Shell Aviation/Able Flight Scholarship.

After becoming a pilot, John realized that finding aircraft to rent with adapted controls (for pilots with disabilities) was difficult, so being the pragmatic problem solver that he is, he decided to do something about it and formed AV84ALL, a charitable organization to "make aviation accessible to all, no matter the disability." He purchased a Zenith CH 750 Cruzer kit and with the help of local EAA Chapter volunteers built and completed the aircraft, powered by a Viking 130-hp Honda-conversion. Jan Eggenfellner of Viking Aircraft Engines traveled to North Carolina to perform the first flight this past Sunday, October 21.

Comment by Kyle D. Voltz on August 23, 2016 at 10:30am

Av84all  I sent you an email on your site.  I would love to know how to become involved in the project even if it were only as a resource.

Comment by Rich M Ward on August 21, 2016 at 9:24am

I like the idea of a 'handicapped' parking space at an FBO. Perhaps it's not a regular feature only because the issue doesn't get raised. With pilots, I doubt it would be something you have to mandate, threatening $200 fines to enforce. Show up at your local FBO with 2 stencils and 2 cans of Krylon, talk to the owner, and park your plane above the blue square until it dries. It could be as simple as that. Just a thought...

Comment by Wayne Tyson on August 20, 2016 at 3:16am

I have a relatively "minor" disability, in that I can walk, but with increasing discomfort after a short distance. For somewhat greater distances, I can use a wheeled walker by sitting in it and pushing myself backwards. For great distances, I can ride a bicycle. I can use the rudders--it's putting my body weight on my bum foot that's the main problem. I always defer to those who are worse off, but I've never noticed a disabled tie-down near the FBO's, restaurants, and other airport facilities. That's something I'm sure that disabled pilots would appreciate. Even a few places reserved for the "infirm" might help our ultra-senior pilots like the UFO pilots (United Flying Octogenarians).

All disabled people I have known do not want to ask for special treatment--60+ years ago a buddy was a polio victim with braces on both of his withered legs; he eschewed wheelchairs and used crutches. His hands were so powerful he could do a thumb-stand (I wonder if there's a special olympics category for that?).

The last time I flew my 750 to my EAA chapter, I had to park quite a distance from the event. It will be nice when us gimps don't have to ask for special privileges and our more mobile brethren will just quietly give us a little hand with dealing with our limitations--especially those worse off than I am. They might ask us if we needed a lift on their little golf-cart . . .

Comment by AV84all on August 19, 2016 at 4:23pm
Michael Doornbos, look forward to meeting you.
Comment by John Montgomery on August 19, 2016 at 3:32pm

Great to hear success stories such as John Robinson's.

As a disabled pilot trainee, I will be very interested in interested in this project's progression. Will there be any changes to accommodate upper extremity disabilities as well?

I am a right arm amputee and have found having my disability on the right side is almost as big an issue as the actual lack of a hand as the majority of certified aircraft are designed to be used by a right handed pilot sitting in the left seat.  Just imagine flying a Cessna 172 from the left seat and reaching for the electric flaps!  In Canada we actually have a regulation that the license testing must be done from the designated pilot seat - which defaults to the left seat!

Experimental class planes are perfect for more easily allowing changes to better suit the ergonomic requirements of the pilot.

I am a member of EAA 245 (Ottawa, Canada) which is also building a 750 Cruzer as a chapter project! 

I look forward to flying this plane (from either seat) when we complete it.

Comment by Rebecca Riley on August 19, 2016 at 3:15pm

Great Michael! They are really not too far from you. It's going to be a fun project!

Comment by Michael Doornbos on August 19, 2016 at 3:02pm

This is really great. I'm the president of EAA 1016 in Asheville NC and a disabled veteran. I've got a passion for this and I think it's worth a trip to Salsbury to check it out!

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