Hope Flys Scholarship Winner Josh Mech

Posted by admin On November - 16 - 2010

I was born with a severe to profound hearing loss in both ears. I have participated in thousands of hours of speech therapy and have had two surgeries to help me get where I am today. I wear two cochlear implants and I am completely deaf without them.
There are different stages of hearing loss; mild, severe, profound, and deaf. A profound hearing loss means that I would not be able to hear anything softer than the sound of a jet engine from a few feet away. Being born with this disability, I accepted my hearing limitations and simply lived in a quieter world than the majority of people.
As a child I wore hearing aids. For many years they were very helpful but I continued to lose a little more of my hearing every year. We realized that my hearing aids would be eventually ineffective in providing enough amplification for me to hear.
Three months before my eighth grade graduation, I had my first cochlear implant surgery and it was an enormous success. I was able to hear more than I had ever heard before out of my left ear. As a result, I was able to understand conversations better in noisy environments and I no longer needed to rely so heavily on lip reading. I had surgery on my right ear six months later providing me with increased bilateral comprehension and clarity. The amplification provided by my implants will never decrease and my hearing is unaffected by exposure to loud noises.
My hearing loss is now classified as mild. I still cannot hear as well as people with normal hearing and I still have some problems with understanding the speech of unfamiliar people. However, I no longer have to go to speech therapy and I am able to communicate on cell phones and radios as well as others.
I have always wanted to fly. My life-long dream is to become a commercial pilot. People told me this would be impossible with my hearing impairment. I was told that a deaf pilot flying for an airline was simply unheard of. However, I have not allowed my disability to keep me from pursuing my dream. When I was a high school freshman, my english teacher assigned a paper on our future careers. I started looking into careers related to aviation because I assumed I could not be a pilot. I considered Airport Management, Flight Attendant, and Airplane Engineer, but I always returned to my childhood dream of becoming a commercial pilot. I was determined to achieve my goal so I contacted the Federal Aviation Administration with my request to pursue this career but I was immediately denied. With the help of my family, I appealed the FAA ruling. My appeal was accepted and shortly thereafter, the FAA allowed me to complete a physical examination and try for a first class medical license.
Imagine my excitement when two months later, I received my first class medical license in the mail! Once I started to fly, I never wanted to stop. I received my Private Pilot License on July 3rd 2009. I was born to fly!
I continued my flight training at Southern Illinois University beginning the Summer 2010 semester. Transitioning to flying out of a controlled field vs. an uncontrolled field had its challenges. Talking on the radio was no longer optional but required. With the help of my flight instructors Sabrina Zwego, and Curt Brooks I was able to build confidence and become a better communicator. I am now currently working on my instrument rating. I find it challenging yet exciting at the same time.
Anybody can accomplish their dreams if they put their mind to it. What I once thought impossible has become a reality. I am living my life-long dream and I am thankful for the opportunity to pursue my chosen career. I will strive to become one of the nation’s first deaf airline captains and realize the dream that I have had since childhood. Hope, does indeed fly.
Josh Mech

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