Spinal Chord Veterans Learn to Paraglide

Story by Rachel Maughan
A Sun Valley program helps veterans and disabled persons paraglide.

SUN VALLEY, IDAHO – This weekend, five veterans with spinal chord injuries got the opportunity to paraglide.

The veterans had their training with ABLE pilot, an organization that helps disabled people have the chance to paraglide.

Training for the SCI veterans started Friday and went to Monday. They learned how to operate an adaptive flight chair at the Sun Valley Camp. Starting Friday, the veterans learned how to operate a paraglider and how to function as a pilot. Next, they gained experience by flying 3 feet above the ground, and took practice flights with instructors. By Monday the veterans were flying solo.

The veterans had the option of flying in two chairs, the Phoenix 1.0 and the Phoenix 1.5.  Under the direction of Don Bloswick, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Utah, four mechanical engineering students at the University of Utah made these chairs.

Mark Gaskill is a trained solo tandem pilot from ABLE pilot. He started paragliding on the University of Utah team. Gaskill now trains people how to paraglide and has created a paragliding program for persons with disabilities.  He also trained the veterans this past weekend.

“ABLE Pilot is an organization committed to getting people with spinal chord injuries, amputations and neuromuscular diseases safely into the air, piloting and flying with the minimum amount of assistance,” said Gaskill.

To learn more about ABLE Pilot and their service to disabled persons, visit http://ablepilot.com/.
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