Being deaf may seem like a challenge to some, but there is one challenge many have overcome.
Recently, Deneese Krumm, a deaf pilot, flew into the Middlesboro-Bell County Airport.
According to the Deaf Pilot’s Association website, its members are men and women, teachers and students, mechanics and farmers, bankers and programmers, priests and writers, working and retired.
“We come from all over the United States, many European countries, and Australia. We are diverse. Many of us are deaf people who use American Sign Language. Others employ speech and lipreading. Some of us are hard of hearing. Some are late-deafened. We are united by a common love of flying,” it states.
The website states that the deaf have been pilots since the earliest days of aviation. In fact, the first pilot to fly across the United States (Calbraith Perry Rodgers in “Vin Fiz,” 1911) had a severe hearing loss from scarlet fever during his childhood.
The Deaf Pilots Association was incorporated in the State of Delaware on December 31, 2001 and is a non-profit organization. DPA’s predecessor organization, the International Deaf Pilots Association, was founded in Knoxville, Tennessee in June 1994.
There is a list of activities in which DPA members are involved on its website:
• We demonstrate not only to the aviation world, but also to the larger hearing world that deaf people can become pilots despite not being able to hear, that use of radio is not required in order to earn private pilot and commercial pilot certificates. In short, we show that we are accomplished human beings with valuable skills and talents.
• We make presentations about our organization at schools for the deaf and to aviation organizations such as the local Experimental Aircraft Association chapters.
• Alone and in groups, we fly our airplanes to local air shows, airport pancake breakfasts, and fly-ins to carry our message about us and to demonstrate our skills.
• Every year, we host a week-long Deaf Pilots Association fly-in, to which DPA members and their families come from all over to enjoy the fellowship of flight as well as to discuss mutual concerns. We also enjoy sightseeing around the localities of the fly-ins, and making short hops to interesting nearby airports. See the Fly-ins page for where we have been, and where we are headed.
• We publish a newsletter (at least two times a year) that contains information important to deaf pilots as well as news and feature articles featuring members and their activities as pilots. A subscription to the newsletter is included in our yearly dues.
• We represent deaf pilots’ interests with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), and other aviation organizations.
• We maintain a library of materials for the use of pilots and student pilots, such as closed-captioned instructional videotapes.
• We maintain this DPA web site at www.deafpilots.org. Anyone can log on and view photographs of members, obtain information on joining DPA, and read our past newsletters online.
Because pilots cannot hear on the radio, the DPA website explains how they can fly.
“Airports (and airspace) can be of two kinds: controlled or uncontrolled. Pilots operating at controlled airports or in controlled airspace are required to be in radio contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC). At uncontrolled airports, however, pilots are only encouraged, but not required, to use their radio to directly advise other pilots in the area of their positions and intentions.Thus, deaf pilots are able to fly into and out of uncontrolled airports without using the radio. (Uncontrolled airports are also called non-towered airports.)”
When issuing a pilot certificate to an otherwise qualified deaf person, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) imposes a limitation: Not Valid for Flights Requiring the Use of Radio.
However, that isn’t as big a limitation as many may think.
According to the DPA website, “You may be surprised to learn that of more than 19,000 landing facilities in the United States, only 512 have control towers. All the other 18,000-plus airports are uncontrolled and accessible to deaf pilots.
If a deaf pilot wants to fly into a controlled airport, he or she can bring along a qualified co-pilot or flight instructor who can handle the necessary radio communications with ATC. Sometimes, special arrangements for a “no-radio arrival” (or departure), using light signals, can be made with the control tower in advance.”
For more information on the Deaf Pilot’s Association, visit www.deafpilots.org.
Reach Marisa Anders at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @newsgirl88.