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Freedom's Wings Arizona provides free glider rides for people with disabilities

'Defy gravity, defy limitations and soar'
Freedom's Wings Arizona
Posted at 6:28 PM, Mar 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-29 21:28:51-04

Freedom's Wings Arizona is a nonprofit that is making the sky inclusive for everyone.

The organization aims to bring the world of flying to people with disabilities. On Friday, March 29 they partnered with the Tucson Soaring Club to take athletes from theUniversity of Arizona’s Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team up in the air.

They provided free glider rides to nine women on the team at El Tiro Gliderport in Marana.

The organization’s founder, Ernie Hilborn, is a retired EMT and has been working on making this dream of his a reality for several years. The organization has officially been a 501(c)(3) for about a year.

He said, “I’ve always had the desire and even beyond desire of wanting to work with people with different disabilities and also helping my community.”

Abby Dunn is a junior at UA and was the first of her team to take a ride in a glider.

“It was super fun,” Dunn said. “He (the pilot) showed me a bunch of stuff around Tucson that you don’t get to see when you’re driving. And I got to control it a little bit, which was a little scary, but it was cool.”

It takes community support to make these rides happen. Experimental Aircraft Association #81 was a sponsor for Friday’s rides.

EAA President, Erik Fjerstad said, “We basically paid for the use of the gliders and the operations here. It’s a great opportunity to give these courageous kids an opportunity to fly.”

Freedom’s Wings Arizona is hoping to plan future events to give others in the community a chance to experience their motto of, “Defy gravity, defy limitations and soar.”

Madison Thomas joined KGUN 9 in July of 2023 as a multimedia journalist. She graduated from Arizona State University in May of 2023 with a degree in journalism and mass communication. She has lived in Arizona her entire life and grew up in Douglas. Madison is thrilled to share the stories from the community she grew up in. Share your story ideas and important issues with Madison by emailing or by connecting on InstagramTwitter or Facebook.