Veterans Learn to Fly Solo

Five veterans with spinal cord injuries take to the sky to learn how to paraglide.

By Elizabeth Briggs

SUN VALLEY, Idaho– Despite spinal cord injuries, five veterans will learn to fly solo this weekend using paraglide flight chairs developed by engineers at the University of Utah.

Training for the veterans will be directed by Mark Gaskill from ABLE Pilot who has spent years developing programs to teach disabled persons how to paraglide.

“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 Gaskill.

Gaskill proposed the idea of an adaptive paragliding chair to the engineers at the University of Utah, who then made it a reality. Under the direction of Don Bloswick, four students developed the chairs named the Phoenix 1.0 and the Phoenix 1.5. that will enable the veterans to fly.

Beforehand, the veterans will begin Friday by learning how the paraglide functions and how to pilot it. Throughout the following days they will begin by flying 3 feet off the ground, will take several tandem flights and by Monday will be flying solo.

For more information visit the ABLE Pilot website at