Getting a paraplegic into aircraft

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by rfbdorf, Apr 7, 2007.

  1. rfbdorf

    rfbdorf Pre-Flight

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    It's been quite a while since I've posted here or read the POA forums. My wife is paraplegic, due to a botched back operation. She used to enjoy flying with me in the Skylane that I'm 1/4 owner of, and it sure would be nice to fly with her again. There doesn't seem to be any way to lift her into the Skylane - she's not a lightweight; even if she was, it would be a very difficult proposition. It occurred to me that I might be able to get her in a low wing a/c using an overhead hoist, particularly if it had a canopy that could be moved out of the way. An Ercoupe came to mind. But I really really like the size & stability of the Skylane. Anyone have any suggestions as to what aircraft might be suitable, with free overhead access to the cockpit?
    - Richard
     
  2. gprellwitz

    gprellwitz Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Diamondstar DA-40 should fit the bill. I'm glad you're trying to keep her flying!
     
  3. rfbdorf

    rfbdorf Pre-Flight

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    I'll investigate. Thanks, Grant.
    - Richard
     
  4. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member

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    You might also consider a Grumman Tiger, as it might be beneficial to have a yoke instead of a stick (as the DA-40 has) with a non-pilot passenger of limited mobility.
     
  5. ScottM

    ScottM Taxi to Parking

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    There are seats that could be pumped up and then you could use a sliding board to get her into the Skylane.
     
  6. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    IMO the hands down winner for easy ingress/egress is a Cessna Cardinal RG. The doors are HUGE and they open 90 degrees which leaves a lot of room between the landing gear and the open door. The floor is fairly close to the ground too.

    How does you wife get into a car? The C177RG should be easier than getting into a minivan front seat.
     
  7. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    I agree with Lance -- Cardinal or Cardinal RG, unless you want to go all the way to a C-210 (not the early strutted ones). The C-177 family seems to be the overwhelming choice of the Wheelchair Aviators. The wide doors and unstrutted wing make for relatively easy access. I might suggest checking with them to find out more about how they get in and out of their airplanes, and I know they do it solo, too.

    The overhead hoist would work OK in your home hangar, but you won't find one anywhere else. Without that, I can't imagine how you'd get a parapalegic in/out of a Tiger unless your name is "Ah-nold."
     
  8. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Supply pax with chute. Open canopy and unhook pax headset and seatbelt. Roll inverted above 3000 AGL and pull on yoke.:D

    That will take care of getting out and they probably won't want back in.
     
  9. AdamZ

    AdamZ Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If your wife can hold herself up with the stregth of her Arms a walker wiht a ramp may help. I'm thinking she could back her self up and slide up the wing of a low wing and slide herself into the plane. Something like a sundowner would be good as it has two doors and you would not have to climb over her to get in. Other than that I agree that the Cardinal makes most sense. By the way welcome back.
     
  10. redcloud

    redcloud Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My 22 yo son has cerebral palsy; and while he is ambulatory, it is very difficult for him to get in the Columbia which also has doors open at the top. Getting him out is even harder.

    He does well with a little patience in the 182.
     
  11. rfbdorf

    rfbdorf Pre-Flight

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    I appreciate the ideas, guys.
    She’s in a powerchair. There are indeed one or two chairs that can raise the rider up, but getting one of those close to the Skylane door is not possible, as the landing gear (& strut) are in the way. Apart from that, the sliding transfer on a board would be marginally possible - although probably most paraplegics could manage that on their own, she doesn’t have the arm strength for that, so anything I come up with needs to also be able to handle a sack of potatoes! Probably would have similar problems with a Cardinal, although at least there’s no strut to complicate things.
    I agree about the hoist problem, Ron, and it’s hard to imagine a hoist that could be disassembled & thrown in back. But so far a hoist & overhead entry seems like the most likely method of getting her into a plane (I use a lift to move her out of her chair & into bed – saves my weak back!).
    As to getting in a car, I have a van with a ramp , and she stays in her chair.
    Thanks, Adam. This has been a life-changing experience, and my flying has dropped from a couple hundred hours/year to only a couple of hours in each of the last 2 years. I may be trying to solve an impossible problem; need to accept that some things are just unattainable now.
    Ron, I forgot about wheelchair aviators, thanks for the reminder. I’ll get on their site.
    - Richard
     
  12. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter

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  13. Areeda

    Areeda Pattern Altitude

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    One thing no one has mentioned is emergency egress.

    I don't mean to put a damper on her enthusiasm for flying just give you one more problem to solve. That's a big one for me taking older less mobile people for a ride in the T28.

    Joe
     
  14. AdamZ

    AdamZ Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Joe: Did think of that and thats why I suggested a two door like a cardinal or a Sundowner. In those the Pilot could hopefully exit and pull the pax out their side. Its a bit harder in a "top entry " plane like a Tiger.
     
  15. Baron 55

    Baron 55 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Congratulations for even trying to solve this. Good luck. As to egress, yes, emergency egress is to be planned out and perhaps practiced beforehand. I am comfortable flying from either seat, so flying right seat with a para' in the left would work, but getting someone out or assisting them getting out would definitely be easier, in any plane, with two doors up front. A lot of the answer as to whether any of it will work is how much the passenger is able to assist in her own movement [arms in this case]. Some para's have upper arm strength that will amaze you, others can barely lift themselves out of an easy chair and into the wheel chair.

    Additionally, a single-door plane with the pilot in the left seat [assuming the door is on the right] is a no-no as in an emergency the pilot is blocked by the passenger...I had this happen, briefly, once with a fully ambulatory fellow pilot in the right seat who got his seat belt stuck when we needed to egress due to a raging cockpit fire.
     
  16. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Heuer lift and a sling would do it from the power chair into the right seat. But that's a BIG deal to arrange, and a small slip of the lift and the mechs will be very busy fixing the plane....
     
  17. rfbdorf

    rfbdorf Pre-Flight

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    Bruce - We use a Hoyer-Partner lift at home (also putting in a ceiling lift), but it's not large/long enough to get the boom into the cabin. I was also thinking along the lines of build my own lift, a long boom and with feet spaced appropriately to clear the gear.
    The emergency egress thought had crossed my mind before; in a real emergency I probably could drag her out, although possibly doing some damage along the way. I would not consider a single-door aircraft.
    I dunno. It's discouraging. It probably won't ever happen, but it certainly won't ever happen if I don't give it some thought.
    - Richard
     
  18. Steve

    Steve En-Route

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    Richard, I don't know what your budget or time constraints are, but I saw this plane when it was introduced at Sun 'n Fun several years ago and I believe it could easily be adapted to accept a wheelchair.

    http://www.exploreraero.com/Site/Welcome.html
     
  19. tonycondon

    tonycondon Gastons CRO (Chief Dinner Reservation Officer)

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    Cardinal would be an excellent choice, IMO. 182 would be doable though.
     
  20. AuntPeggy

    AuntPeggy Final Approach

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    I don't if your objective is also to have you fly the plane -- to buy the plane -- or just take a ride. If the latter, I've been thinking about a Pilatus that is used for skydiving with huge doors that I rode in a few years ago. Seemed like the fuselage was close to the ground and egress was not hampered by landing gear in the way. Roomy as heck. Anyway, just thinking a little outside the box.
     
  21. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Huh? How would an experimental floatplane help?
     
  22. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    big door in the back and a 4130 tube fues which could be modified for a retractable lift arm.
     
  23. jesse

    jesse Touchdown! Greaser!

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    it's basically a tank...huge inside......lift anything....experimental so modify away.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2007
  24. Flyboy

    Flyboy Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Many years ago I used to take a quadraplegic on flights. He was 6'8" and although not obese, did have some weight on him. (he did have limited use of his arms but not much use of his hands.)

    The line crew was always glad to help lift him into the plane. (skyhawk) Yes it took some effort, but once he was in he was fine.

    I will ALWAYS remember the smiles on his face when we took to the air. The woops and giddy laughter when I let him rest his hands on the yoke and "steer".

    I hope you're wife can enjoy flying again!
     
  25. woodstock

    woodstock Final Approach

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    Nothing to add, just very sorry to read about this.
     
  26. Steve

    Steve En-Route

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    If you notice, it also can be fitted with amphibious floats and tricycle landing gear. As other have mentioned it has plenty of interior room and easy side access.

     
  27. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    OK, I thought maybe you were suggesting to sink the floats and float the passenger into the plane!
     
  28. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    That would work too...