Story of A Paraplegic Trike Pilot
Hi, My name is Sean Scott. I’m a 34 year old male living in Linden, NC. In 1980, the day after my 13th birthday I was accidentally shot by a young friend playing with his parent’s handgun. The gunshot caused permanent paralysis from the lower chest down. As any one would, I adapted to the paralysis and went on with life. Adjusting to a disability isn’t something that is easy for everyone to do. Some people even think they would rather be dead then live paralyzed. But since I was young it made things a little easier for me to live with. I have seen all the hard things that come about in daily living from being in a wheelchair. A lot of things that someone walking wouldn’t even think about, like getting up stairs or curbs or if a door is wide enough for me to get through with my wheelchair. Along with going to the bathroom or transferring to a bed.
I have always been a pretty active disabled person. Including wheelchair basketball, riding ATV’s, Jet Skis and getting my drivers License at a young age. Owning Hot Rod cars and all that. My father was a General Aviation Private Pilot and had the flying bug. I always loved to fly with him when I was growing up. My Father flew the family across the United States in a Cessna to visit relatives when I was around 11. Ever since then I always loved to fly.
The thing I found to make me forget about my paralysis the most is flying a Cosmos weight-shift Trike. A few years ago I seen a movie called “Fly Away Home” It was about the exploits of Bill Lishman, Bill and his family and friends taught hand raised motherless Canadian Geese how to migrate using a Cosmos Ultralight weight-shift Trike and are doing it to this day calling it Operation Migration. That movie got me interested in flying more then ever.
After seeing “Fly Away Home” I started investigating all the Ultralight Trikes on the Net to see what was out there and how much they cost. I came up with the same choice as Bill, The Cosmos Phase II Trike. I found the Cosmos to have the best reputation so I made a call to Don Reinhart, the Importer of the Cosmos Trikes, which are made in France. Don is owner of Personal Flight Inc. He sent me an Introduction Video, which I was impressed with so I decided to buy. Don helped me with my order and helped me find the instructor needed. He also explained to Cosmos about my situation with my paralysis. Guess what? Cosmos had already adapted one of their Trikes with hand controls for a disabled Pilot. The hand controls consisted of a Twist throttle mounted on the control bar and a ground control stick mounted between your legs like a 3-axis stick in a plane. You pull the stick back to turn left and push forward to turn right, when you are on the ground. It had a hand break mounted on it for stopping after landing and taxing.
After ordering the Trike I bought a book about flying Trikes called “Trikes, The Flex Wing Flyer”. Written by a couple well-known Trikers, Hal Mc Swain & Lucian Bartosik. I learned all the basics of flying a Trike before I even got in one. I was prepared for the training mentally and spiritually. My first training was with a local dealer of powered parachutes and avid Triker Henry Muller. A friendly neighbor and avid ultra-light Pilot Doctor Kenny Garret let me use his 2800’ grass strip. Where I took 2 hours of in flight training from Henry. Along with my Father taking 2 hours of instruction, as it was all I could afford and all he needed being a Pilot already. Henry lived half way across the state so I went on using my Dad as the instructor. I found the Cosmos Trike easy to get into and a breeze to operate with the hand control setup. I flew another hour and a half off of Doctor Garret’s field with Dad before he though I was ready enough to solo. I took the first flight alone November 30, 1998 after just 3-1/2 hours of instruction, cutting the average instruction time by about 10 hours. What an amazing feeling flying high in the sky all a lone. I flew for over an hour and a half before I came down.
Flying a Trike makes me forget about my paralysis! After that solo all I could think about was if the weather was nice enough to fly again. I have been flying my Trike as often as the weather permits. I usually keep it ready to fly, so when the right weather comes along all I have to do is take-off. I urge everyone, disabled or not to fly in a weight-shift Trike at least once in their life. It will bring out the confidence in them. You will see the earth in a whole new dimension! Nothing makes me forget about my paralysis more than flying alone, high in the sky with no obstacles to get in my way. There's nothing like the feeling you get with the wind in your face. It's like riding a Harley in the sky. You get the feeling that a bird gets when they're soaring on a thermal, the feeling of real freedom!
Now I know why birds are always flying. Now that I know what it's like, I fly every chance I get!
I guess Leonardo De Vinci was right when he said: "Once you have tasted flight you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned upward"
Remember, “Nothing can stand in your way when you really want to do something so don’t let a little air stop you from flying like a Eagle.”
"Don't waste your time on the ground, the real fun is in the air! Remember, The sky's the limit"
Fly Away with Sean at http://flightability.bizland.com