Handicapped Veterans Learn to Fly

By: Chris Springsteen

Five SCI veterans take to the air using adaptive chair
SUN VALLEY, Idaho- Five spinal cord injured (SCI) veterans will learn to paraglide this weekend in Sun Valley, Idaho, using an adaptive flight chair.
Don Bloswick, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Utah, headed a four-man undergraduate team that built the two flight chairs.
Bloswick’s students built the two chairs, the Phoenix 1.0 and the Phoenix 1.5, as part of their senior capstone course.

Mark Gaskill, an ABLE Pilot teacher, will be training the SCI veterans this weekend.
Gaskill is a certified solo and tandem pilot that has been working in the paragliding for disabled persons field for several years. Gaskill has a specific training program, called ABLE Pilot, that he designed for disabled persons and was the person who initially pitched the idea to the U. of U. for an adaptive flight chair.
“Able Pilot is an organization committed to getting people with spinal cord injuries, amputations, and neuromuscular diseases safely into the air, piloting, and flying with the minimum amount of assistance,” proudly stated Gaskill.

Ernie Butler, a former US Air Force Special Operations Pararescueman, had his legs taken from him 16 years ago and the ABLE Pilot program has given him the chance to fly again.
Even though Butler has continued to do other sports his passion still remains with parachuting. He became an ABLE Pilot to help SCI veterans get back what ABLE Pilot gave him.

Training will begin Friday, Sept. 23 and conclude on Monday, Sept. 26. To learn more about ABLE pilot you can visit: http://ablepilot.com/.