Overcoming Adversity: How Stephen Hopson Opened the Runway for Deaf Pilots

Stephen Hopson
Our guest on the show today was Stephen Hopson, former Wall Street stockbroker turned pilot, author and speaker. We met Stephen at the Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference. Once you meet him, you never forget him.

Stephen Hopson is the founder of Adversity University. He knows a lot about overcoming adversity. He’s been deaf since birth, but as he says, we all face our own adversity in life

A dream is born
As a young boy, Stephen said he had very low self-esteem. He had a hearing aid box that was strapped to his chest with cords running up to his ear. He was also very thin. But he was a boy with a dream … to be a pilot.

When he was just four- or five-years old, he saw a plane in the sky and knew he wanted to fly with the big boys. After much prodding, he convinced his mom to take him to the airport. It became a weekly event.

Upon arriving at the airport, Stephen would jump out of the car and run up to the fence. He would put his fingers on the fence and wait for a plane to come out. The minute he saw a plane, he would run back to the car and put his head on the hood, with his face looking out so he could see the plane take off.

When the plane took off, the little car would vibrate like a washing machine. That’s how Stephen heard the sound of a plane.

Living the dream
He didn’t pursue his dream until many years later. He completed college and went off to Wall Street. After fifteen years, he quit his career to pursue his dream of becoming a motivational speaker.

One day, he learned about other deaf pilots on his computer. He didn’t realize that deaf pilots had been flying since 1948. At that point, his childhood dream came roaring back to life!

He began looking for a flight instructor. Many of them weren’t aware that deaf pilots could fly. So they didn’t want to train him. Finally, Stephen found a willing instructor.

He could only fly on good weather days. Deaf pilots navigate by referencing landmarks – like cities, lakes, and highways. But when weather turned bad, deaf pilots were not allowed to fly.

Until 2006.

That’s when Stephen Hopson became the first deaf pilot to fly in bad weather. He says that flying in bad weather is like flying in a milk bottle because you can’t see where you’re going. So, as Stephen says, he became the first deaf and blind pilot! He thought about starting Helen Keller Airways!

Now other deaf pilots are following his footsteps. He says it’s very difficult to fly in bad weather because you have to communicate with your co-pilot, whose job is to translate what the controllers are telling them over the radio. The co-pilot writes it down on a dry erase board and then gives it to Stephen, which is very challenging.

What an amazing accomplishment! Look at the doors Stephen has opened for others.

Stephen’s H.E.A.R. Principle for overcoming adversity

Have a passion for what you do. Otherwise obstacles will seem difficult to overcome.

Entertain the possibilities that are available to you.

Authenticity. Be authentic; be who you are.

Remember who helped you.

We thank Stephen for sharing his inspirational story and his incredible insight with us today!

Our bigg quote today is by none other than Stephen Hopson himself.

“Establishing goals, visualizing myself achieving them, as well having faith that
it will all work out well are essential ingredients in overcoming … obstacles.”

So don’t let adversity keep you grounded … overcome it and soar to new heights.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file | podcast:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/biggsuccess/00147-060308.mp3

13 replies
  1. Bibiana
    Bibiana says:

    I love these kind of stories! Listen for it on-air at vocalo.org. Although I imagine the good and the bad of all situations, I tend to be an optimist. I’ve also worked very closely with deaf children and their families.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Adversity often leads to opportunity We won’t go into all the details here. You can read the Vanity Fair article or buy the book. But Michael Burry is who he is because he only has one good eye. His first career wasn’t a good fit because of Asperger’s syndrome. But he landed in a place that fit him perfectly. Look at the adversity you’ve faced for clues to where you’ll find bigg success. […]

  2. […] listeners may remember our interview with Stephen. Among his many other accomplishments, he was the first deaf pilot to fly in bad weather, using […]

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