USACE employee with physical disability earns flight scholarship

Published April 15, 2013

FORT WORTH, Texas – A Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employee is one step closer to his dream of obtaining a pilots’ certificate after receiving an Able Flight, flight training scholarship, April 5.

Geographic information systems engineer, Dennis Akins will begin a five to six week flight and ground training course leading to a pilot certificate at Purdue University on May 19th.

"To earn my pilot’s wings is no easy task, but I am really looking forward to this opportunity, as it has been a lifelong dream to be able to fly" said Akins.

Akins, who is paralyzed from the chest down resulting from a trampoline accident at 14, will train in a Sky Arrow 600, a light sport aircraft that is specifically designed with adaptations for hand controls to meet his special needs.

The Killeen, Texas native who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree’ from Texas A&M University, does not let his physical limitations stand in the way of meeting challenging and demanding goals.

"I’ll be faced with doing something with only two hands that an able bodied person can do with both hands and legs," Akins said.

Although this presents a challenge, Akins will not give up on a dream just because it’s going to be more difficult to accomplish. "This will certainly take more work and practice to become proficient, but I’m looking forward to it," added Akins.

Aside from his duties with the Corps, Akins is a member of the Mineral Wells Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol where he now serves as Unit Commander and Aerospace Education Officer and Communications Officer. He has been with the Civil Air Patrol for the past 10 years.

The former Aggie has many hours of flight under his belt, but to this point, all his flights were with a certified instructor. With the award of his pilot’s certificate, Akins will be able to fly solo.

"This will lead to a sports license and hopefully from there I can obtain a private license," added Akins. "I would like to eventually be able to give flight tours to others and further share my passion for aviation."


About the Fort Worth District

: The Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was established in 1950. The District is responsible for water resources development in two-thirds of Texas, and design and construction at military installations in Texas and parts of Louisiana and New Mexico. Visit the Fort Worth District Web site at: and SWF Facebook at:

Randy Cephus

Release no. 13-027