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Korel Cudmore-Student learns to fly despite deafness

Student learns to fly despite deafness


By Kirsten Gibson, Purdue Exponent 6/15/11

A deaf “daredevil’s” dream to be able to fly is coming true one day at a time.

Korel Cudmore is participating in Able Flight, a program hosted at Purdue to give four disabled students their sport pilot certification. She’s a junior at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts majoring in math and pre-medicine.

Cudmore said she’s always wanted to fly, but thought she would never be able to because she is deaf. When she found an opportunity to fly, she took it.

“I’m kind of a daredevil,” Cudmore said “I like heights and new experiences.”

In addition to her acquiring the skill to fly, Cudmore is also a gymnast and participates in ballroom dancing at her college. Her hearing loss hasn’t stopped her from doing much because she uses both a cochlear implant and a hearing aid that work together to amplify the sound, allowing her to hear. The cause of her hearing loss is unknown.

“Since I was 2 years old I’ve had gradual hearing loss,” Cudmore said.

She doesn’t wear a headset when flying due to feedback from her hearing aid. Her instructor, Justin Lowe, a senior in the College of Technology, said Cudmore has to use her vision more to look out for traffic, but they’ve worked through the communication barrier.

“We came up with hand signals and I have a board to write on if she doesn’t understand the signals,” Lowe said.

Regardless, Cudmore said the hardest thing about the course is the amount of information packed into a short period of time.

“I love (flying),” Cudmore said. “The first thing I do in the morning is fly.”

Cudmore will finish out the program here and then head to the University of Delaware for a research internship. After that she hopes to go to Oxford University in England for study abroad.

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