This makes Irby the first black woman with a disability to get a pilots license, according to the publication.
Irby began flying at age 16 through another flying program, called Aviation Career Enrichment, but was in a car accident in 2013 that left her paralyzed.
“After waking up from surgery, doctors informed me and my family that I had sustained an L3 spinal cord injury. I started rehab at Shepard Center, in Atlanta,” she told the news site. “The first day I was told I would be in a wheelchair, the therapist came in my room and I asked, ‘Do you all have a pink one I can borrow?’ They all laughed, but I knew this wasn’t going to be bad, this was going to be a new start, so why not be myself through it!”
Irby, who spent a little more than a year in and out of the hospital, maintained a positive attitude as she healed. And once she was able, she began traveling the world.
“I am an avid traveler. I have visited more countries in my wheelchair than I have able-bodied,” she said. “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?’”
That’s when she discovered Able Flight. After applying to the program, she was offered a scholarship. During the seven-week course, she flew both day and night and attended ground school.
In June, she passed her check ride and officially received her license.
"Bessie Coleman was the first African American female to (receive) a pilots license. Through conversation and historians, (I learned) here is not an African American female pilot on record with a disability. This would make me the first!" she told BecauseOfThemWeCan.com
Irby’s next goal? She has plans to pursue her private pilots license.
Read more about her journey here.
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