The pilot seat was removed to make way for a wheelchair in an El Al simulator. (Courtesy/ADI) (Courtesy/ADI)
Wheelchair pilot for a test flight in an El Al simulator

“When it comes to integrating people with disabilities into society, the sky is definitely not the limit.”

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Every March, Israel marks “Good Deeds Day” when people go out of their way to improve the world, and this year’s event was exceptional when four wheelchair users got the thrill of a lifetime flying in El Al’s Boeing 737 simulator, JNS reported.

In honor of Good Deed’s Day, El Al took out the captain’s chair in their Boeing 737 simulator to make room for wheelchairs – the first time that had ever been done in the multi-million dollar device used to train El Al pilots, many of whom are known to be former Israel Air Force fighter pilots.

Under the supervision of El Al Captain Eran Lichter, four disabled people made history as the first wheelchair users to train in the flight simulator. The four are all members of ADI, Israel’s most comprehensive provider of residential care for individuals with severe disabilities and the leader of the national rehabilitation movement.

The joint initiative between El Al and the ADI centers for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities enabled the four ADI residents to fulfill their dreams of flying an aircraft and made them the world’s first wheelchair users to train in the advanced passenger jet simulator.

Other than switching the seat and adding a detachable ramp for direct access to the cockpit, the simulator was not altered in any way and the four enjoyed the same experience as everyone else.

“When it comes to integrating people with disabilities into society, the sky is definitely not the limit,” said Major-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, chairman of the ADI Negev-Nahalat Rehabilitation Village, which was established in memory of Almog’s son, Eran, who was born with severe autism and intellectual disabilities.

The four also met a genuine hero, as one of the missions during Almog’s decorated military career was leading a squad of IDF paratroops during the famous rescue of hostages being held by terrorists at the airport in Entebbe, Uganda.

The ADI village is home for more than 150 children and young adults with severe disabilities and complex medical conditions and provides a host of rehabilitative solutions for individuals from all backgrounds and levels of need.

As officials proudly watched, the four trainees received their wings and a a course certificate for completing the training session.

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