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Good Deeds Day gives Israelis with disabilities the chance to be pilots

wheelchair user learning EL AL’s Flight
Photo: ADI/YouTube

On Tuesday, March 16, Good Deeds Day, the pilot’s seat of EL AL’s Boeing 737 flight simulator was replaced with a wheelchair to give Israelis with disabilities the opportunity to be pilots for the day.

EL AL’s ‘Fly Card’ credit card and Frequent Flyer Club and Advancement of People with Disabilities and Rehabilitation for All (ADI), Israel’s provider of residential and rehabilitative care for individuals with severe disabilities, collaborated to put on the special event that allowed four ADI residents to fly an airplane and made them the world’s first people who use wheelchairs to train in an advanced simulator.

Guided by EL AL Captain Eran Lichter, the four residents, including one young woman and three young men from ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran and ADI Jerusalem, each enjoyed 60-minute flight instruction simulations.  After touchdown, the ADI trainees received their wings and a certificate of course completion from EL AL Fly Card and Frequent Flyer Club CEO Lior Tanner in the presence of Major General (Res.) Doron Almog, Founder and Chairman of ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran, and Shlomit Grayevsky, Director of ADI Jerusalem.

“I am so proud of this wonderful Good Deeds Day initiative that highlights the importance of disability inclusion, equity and access.  ADI works tirelessly to promote inclusion, integrate people with disabilities in all areas of life, and break down thick walls of prejudice and stereotypes, so this is a very significant step forward for our residents, their families and the entire ADI family,” said Major General Almog.  “We are so grateful to Mr. Lior Tanner for his partnership and for making this powerful and meaningful experience a reality.  When it comes to integrating people with disabilities into society, the sky is definitely not the limit.”

They removed the co-pilot’s seat from the Boeing 737 flight simulator and  a ramp was built to provide the ADI residents with direct access to the cockpit.  Other than these minor adjustments, the simulator was not altered in any way and the ADI residents enjoyed the same experience as everyone else, Tanner explained.

“This simulator experience provides us with an opportunity to promote true equality and make the joy of flying accessible to all.  It makes you stop and think when you realize that the CEO of a bank and the ADI residents received the same treatment, enjoyed the same experience, and all need help flying the plane.”

ADI (formerly ALEH Jerusalem and ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran) empowers hundreds of Israel’s citizens – children, adolescents and adults with severe disabilities – to advance well beyond their initial prognoses and live happy, dignified, and meaningful lives.  ADI also provides the highest-level rehabilitative care for all and is laying the groundwork for the establishment of fully inclusive communities across the country.

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