ABLE Pilot Program Helps Veterans With SCI Learn to Paraglide

Story by: Laurie Carlson

“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,” said Mark Gaskill, director of the training.

In Sun Valley, Idaho, this weekend, five veterans with spinal cord injuries (SCI) will learn how to paraglide.  They will learn how a paraglider works, functions and how to pilot it.

The veterans will use two flight chairs named Phoenix 1.0 and Phonenix 1.5. The original flight chair Phoenix 1.0 was built under the direction of Don Bloswick, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Utah. The chair was built by four mechanical engineer undergraduates at the University.

Gaskill is the developer of the ABLE pilot program and is the developer of many paragliding-training programs for people with disabilities. Gaskill is the person who initially came to the U of U team with the idea to develop the adaptive flight chairs.

The veterans will train all weekend long Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. During the first day of training they will learn about paragliding. They will also learn how to paraglide 3 feet off the ground. They veterans will then take several tandem flights with ABLE Pilot’s certified instructors. Finally by Monday they will be able to fly solo.

For more information about the ABLE Pilot program visit