Around the Independence Day holiday, stories of courage and the freedom earned by courageous acts are celebrated and honored. This year, we were honored to witness the courageous spirit of an aviator who overcomes obstacles that the rest of us never encounter. Henri Corderoy du Tiers is a French citizen holding an FAA license, but though he feels the vibration of an engine on start-up, he will never hear it’s purr at altitude. Henri is deaf.
It was January when I received the first assisted phone call connected from overseas with a unique request; there was a deaf pilot in France speaking through a hearing interpreter to make arrangements for renting an airplane in July. “Say again?” was my first response, but over the course of a few more in kind calls and several emails, it was more than apparent how this gentleman overcame and earned the same freedom that was afforded all hearing certificated pilots. Henri’s intelligence and thoroughness made an impression on our Chief, as well, as he was released to rent the Cessna Skylane to accomplish the mission he planned so many months earlier. Henri and his friends, also deaf, were heading to the Deaf Pilots Association Fly-In in Knoxville, Tennessee, just like he had done as a new pilot two decades earlier.
“It is right I flew with my wife and her twin daughters on a C172 from Gaithersburg, Maryland to Knoxville, Tennessee 20 years ago to attend at the very first Deaf Pilots Fly-in. I have then attended at almost all the following Fly-Ins (Southern California, Northern California, Wisconsin, Colorado, Texas, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, etc). Next year it’ll be held near Portland, Oregon,” emailed Henri.
This summer, we made a new friend at Lanier Flight Center, and met a new teacher. Henri is back in France, but his lessons remain with us reminding us every time we see the horizon over the cowling just what a privilege and honor it is to fly.
For more information on the Deaf Pilots Association, Inc., go to http://www.deafpilots.com. (Note: That is Henri flying the Bonanza in sillouette on the home page.)