Disabled/Amputee Pilot Support

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by AcroGimp, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. AcroGimp

    AcroGimp Cleared for Takeoff

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    Just wanted to post up here that I am a below-knee amputee (right leg) who also is a pilot.

    I have successfully earned and held up to a First Class Medical, have experience with applying for, testing for, and receiving a Statement of Demonstrated Ability (SODA) Waiver, and would be happy to offer whatever guidance and encouragement I can with respect to becoming a pilot for aspiring disabled pilots.

    When I was a kid my parents and I thought, incorrectly, that I would not be able to learn how to fly due to a birth defect, but with perseverence and a little willingness to work within the system (including a special SODA checkride with the FSDO), I now hold a Commercial license with Instr. Privileges.

    I am fortunate to have flown 33 different make/model aircraft over the last 27 years including ultralights, many certified and experimental aircraft, aerobatic planes (Extra 300L, Christen Eagle II, Grob G103), a couple warbirds (T-6A Texan II, Yak-52) and even the Robinson R-22b helicopter.

    [​IMG]

    I have had to adopt several techniques to effectively and safely operate these different aircraft and am glad to share any of that experience if it might help other pilots.

    You can read more about me and my flying adventures on my blog (in my signature) if you are interested.

    So if you have any questions about how disabled folks can learn how to fly and earn their license, please use this as a place to begin (not intending to take anything away from the excellent guidance Dr. Bruce provides BTW).

    Blue Skies!

    'Gimp
     
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  2. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Isn't this a refreshing change from pflemming's attutude about his checkride?
     
  3. DaytonaLynn

    DaytonaLynn Line Up and Wait

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    One who misses Daytona!
    So nice to see people overcome the negatives and be positive role models.

    Wish he would do the FAASTeam seminars.
     
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  4. Jeanie

    Jeanie Pattern Altitude

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    Cool, dude. I read an interesting article by Budd Davisson regarding teaching an above the knee amputee how to fly a Pitts.

    That's a good looking plane in your picture.
     
  5. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    The process of SODAs for amputees is pretty straight forward in my experience, but it's the unknowns that makes an applicant worry. Just talking to someone who has "been there and done that" is a huge help.
     
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  6. AcroGimp

    AcroGimp Cleared for Takeoff

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    That is my friend, aerobatics instructor and air show pilot Chuck Coleman's Extra 300L. Marvellous airplane, total blast to fly.

    Budd's article is great and is one element that convinced me to try the Extra - I have since also flown a Christen Eagle II. I wasn't sure I would be able to handle a high-performance tailwheel airplane without an ankle - ended up a no-brainer.

    'Gimp
     
  7. Jeanie

    Jeanie Pattern Altitude

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    Then you saw how the man modified his one ankle to have a swivel activated by a handle at his "knee" I thought that was brilliant.
     
  8. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    John, and Brian:

    You guys are bad-ass. While the world scurries around making excuses why they cannot succeed, guys like you are refusing to accede to failure.

    It reminds me not to **** and moan.

    Come to Dallas, I buy beer.
     
  9. moonshine

    moonshine Line Up and Wait

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    Good job, man

    Forwarded your blog to a guy I know. He wants to come out to the US of A to learn to fly here, as there's no provision for SODA in his country. He's a skydiver with hundreds of jumps, over 2/3 of which he made being an amputee.
     
  10. AcroGimp

    AcroGimp Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks Max, any help I can be - aviation is a lot about paying it forward to me.

    I did a tandem jump about 22 years ago, from 13,500 - it was a blast. We were of course a little worried my prosthetic leg might come off so the instructor told me he would yell in my ear before he deployed the main chute so I could pull my leg up close and hold on to it.

    As should have been expected, between the excitement and the wind noise I didn't hear him and we went on to have what he described, and which the video confirmed as one of the most violent chute openings he had ever experienced. My prosthetic, which is a suction fit, actually slipped about 2-3 inches down my leg.

    We were joking before we took off about how bad it would be for my leg to come off when we popped the chute and to fall to earth, landing near some poor Kansas farmer giving him a heart attack - actually discussed using duct tape around the leg of the dive suit.

    I had to put my artificial foot on top of my good foot and try to push back down into my leg but I couldn't get good enough leverage to do it due to the harness so I had some swelling that was uncomfortable but we were OK once we got on the ground.

    Skydiving is a sport I could see taking up, but with regular and aerobatic flying and motorcycles I already have enough spendy hobbies.

    'Gimp
     
  11. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A line will form to ante up for subsequent rounds.

     
  12. AcroGimp

    AcroGimp Cleared for Takeoff

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    Yes, and that was a cool part of the article however, my amputation and my prosthesis are very different - the guy in the article was above the knee so he couldn't effectively move his foot without the neat pivot he designed. I am below-knee with a long residual limb/stump that goes down to just above where my ankle would be, so that kind of technology/mechanical approach was not an option in my case.

    For example, when using the brakes, I have to lift my foot up and move my whole leg to get onto toe brakes, so I basically mash with my right leg and then modulate/steer with my left foot. Sometimes takes a while to smooth it out but it works. Even when I had a left side brake lock-up on a Piper Warrior a bunch of years ago on landing, my right leg is my 'weak' side, but I was still able to keep the plane on a fairly narrow runway.

    I haven't flown any heel brake planes, but in the Pipers for example, I use the parking brake handle (carefully) when I need max braking on landing.

    'Gimp
     
  13. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I guess I'm OK to say I had the pleasure again of Brian's presence this week. He's a pretty serious aviator, and understands the traps and pitfalls of the 150 hp Cardinal available to him....

    And he can do all the stuff :)
    :)
     
  14. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I've put 45 hours in the last 3 months on this airplane and dad has owned it for about 8 years now, so I probably have around 150 hours total in this one.

    She does...a few things well. Climbing & go-arounds on HOT days is NOT one of them...and full flaps are a trap ie pretty much committed on those hot days.

    Been grossed out more than once. But when the temps are pushing 85 degrees, I really want to be 150#+ under gross. Even when the DA is only 2,500. Because the climb gradiant is...:yikes:

    I've practiced a bit of step climbing on the hottest days too 95+. Back cylinders hover about 415 as I reach 5000 MSL and oil temp over 2/3. Let it cool off a bit then go up more if need.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
  15. AcroGimp

    AcroGimp Cleared for Takeoff

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    Brian, this is exactly why I wanted to start this conversation. The process can be easy or hard, but the not knowing if/how a disability might effect flying and the ability to get a medical can be tough to deal with.

    Is your arm myo-electric or cable-operated? My leg is straight carbon fiber as well. They offered to cover it in a light fiberglass and make it skin-colored like normal but being an engineer I just really dug the carbon look.

    'Gimp
     
  16. skyflyer8

    skyflyer8 Line Up and Wait

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  17. AcroGimp

    AcroGimp Cleared for Takeoff

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  18. whifferdill

    whifferdill Line Up and Wait

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    The previous owner of my Pitts, and current IAC Advanced competitor, is a below the knee amputee from birth. I'm amazed he handled the airplane, but I bet he's not - having never known the difference.
     
  19. moonshine

    moonshine Line Up and Wait

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    I'd say! :eek:

    Doing a great job there, 'Gimp!
     
  20. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Myo...
     
  21. AcroGimp

    AcroGimp Cleared for Takeoff

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    Would you be able to share his contact info via PM? I'd love to talk to him - hoping to begin competing next year if I can get a plane.

    Thanks

    'Gimp
     
  22. whifferdill

    whifferdill Line Up and Wait

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    PM sent
     
  23. chester2005

    chester2005 Filing Flight Plan

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    i have stumbled across this forum whilst googling various things, i am tempted to do an add on commercial seaplane to my existing commercial rotorcraft but after reading this topic i felt i needed to post something in the spirit of helping anyone who needs advice or questions answered regarding SODAs in the rotary wing world.

    I am a bi lateral below knee amputee. with a damaged shoulder and limited vision left eye.
    i walk, drive unadapted vehicles (manual and automatic) and fly with 2 prosthetic limbs.
    i hold FAA CPL(H) IR(H) EASA/JAA CPL(H) IR(H) FI(H) R22 R44 B206 EC135.
    i understand i am the only one in the UK (and possibly the only one in Europe) with these ratings and disabilities.

    i was a pilot before my motorbike accident and was initially told by my FAA/JAA AME i would never likely fly again (at that point i had only lost one leg) needless to say i don't give up and with the help of a UK CAA Dr. (sadly now retired) and the FAA in OK. i passed a couple of medical flight tests 1 in UK and 1 in USA and carry an FAA SODA with no restrictions or limitations. My EASA/JAA has a couple of limitations.

    I would say to anyone regarding flying and disabilities, do not be put off, it is possible.

    If i can help anyone move forwards in aviation or rehabilitation terms i will gladly do so.

    Chester
     
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  24. Brandon Miller

    Brandon Miller Filing Flight Plan

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    So I recently had my feet partially amputated and I'm wondering if it's possible to obtain a pilot's license as a partial amputee, I know this post is very old but it popped up on Google when I was doing research.
    I still have enough foot left to be able to operate pedals on an automobile so I'm thinking I should be able to operate the rudder on an aircraft as well.
    Any information or help is greatly appreciated thank you.
     
  25. Greg Bockelman

    Greg Bockelman Administrator Management Council Member

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    Very possible. Probably good info in this thread.