It’s embarrassing when my leg falls off.
I’m fine when I’m flying, but it happens sometimes when I get out of my Piper Cherokee. Right now, my residual leg (stump) is changing, so until I get fitted with a new socket, twisting out of the pilot’s seat onto the wing and down to the ground can cause my prosthetic leg to slip off.
Which was why I didn’t volunteer to make some of the EAA Young Eagle flights for the Taunton High School Air Force JROTC program this week. Instead, I sat at the reception table doing paperwork. But I was certainly thinking, just let one disabled cadet walk up to this table and I will personally limp out to my airplane and give them their ride!
Get a grip, Doug. Of course there are no disabled youngsters in JROTC, especially for the USAF. After all, we wouldn’t want to set a false expectation, since Johnny can’t go to the Air Force Academy and fly a jet after he lost his arm. And Sally, you’ll never be an astronaut with that artificial leg.
Except that there are service members currently serving as pilots after becoming disabled by limb loss while on active duty. Not to mention the WWII double amputee and Battle of Brittan ace Douglas Bader. So why couldn’t a young person with a pre-existing disability start a military career, if they could otherwise meet the fitness standards? I became disabled in retirement, but the greatest attribute I looked for in new recruits during my 28 year military career was MOTIVATION.
Personally, I believe that the bigger leap is in our minds. But I am certain that there will come a time, out in the big blue sky of the future, when advancements in prosthetics and therapy will make it perfectly normal for disabled youngsters to aim for careers as military aviators and as pilots for the major airlines.
It’s going to be a great day.
BREAKFAST AT KATAMA
We flew to Katama (again) this week for breakfast on the deck, with 8 airplanes: Super Hawk, Pitts, Vans RV, Cardinal, C-150, C-182, Citabria and the Cherokee. Our string of near perfect days continued, and the sky was bright blue and silky smooth. My only brain-lock occurred when we had to be pushed back into a parking spot. I use a bar (or lever) to control the rudder and nose wheel steering with my right hand. Down is left and up is right. Simple. Until I had to steer going backwards, and my brain couldn’t catch up, even though it was a lot easier than backing a trailer. But with Robbie and Mike pushing, we got the airplane parked without trading wingtip paint with the neighbors.
As I mentioned, the Taunton Pilots Association flew 16 JROTC cadets on EAA Young Eagle flights this week. We had two Vans RVs, an Aeronca Champ, a Long EZ and a Hawk XP on the line. The kids were great and they really enjoyed it, but I think that the pilots had more fun than any of the teenagers.