Flying Is Flying
By Dan Grunloh, Editor - Light Plane World, EAA 173888
You shouldn’t tell a disabled person that he can’t do something, unless you want him to go out and try to prove you wrong. David Sykes flew 11,400 miles with his wheelchair packed on his trike because a friend in a pub wagered he wouldn’t do it. Vance Breese flipped his motorcycle at 265 mph and overcame a traumatic brain injury to become a pilot after doctors said his life was over.
These modern heroes of aviation and the less famous pilots who fly their light planes 1,000 miles to attend EAA AirVenture Oshkosh prove that we can often do a lot more than we think we can. And so can our little planes. Vance is a good example, not just for pilots, but all those who suffer from traumatic brain injury including wounded military veterans. He and David also draw attention to the fact that what might be called unconventional aircraft can accomplish great things.
On another note, let’s face the fact that we have a tendency to think our favorite type of aircraft is best. I certainly think my Air Creation trike is absolutely the best aircraft, at least for me. Last year, I had a brief conversation with EAA Founder Paul Poberezny. As we parted after a meeting, he reflected on the fact that I fly a weight-shift-control trike. He said, “It looks like it would be fun,” and stated that it doesn’t matter what kind of wing you have, or if the propeller is in the front or the back. He was saying that “flying is flying.” He may not have used those exact words, but the meaning was unmistakable to me. I was thinking about that while attending the Mentone fly-in. The event was almost entirely populated by unconventional aircraft. PRA President Scott Lewis emphasized that everything is welcome, but he also implied that fixed-wing airplanes are discouraged from tying up the local pattern traffic.The idea that flying is flying and everything should be welcomed also applies to the foot-launched powered paraglider (PPG). Many of us couldn’t do it or wouldn’t be willing to try it, but we shouldn’t say that it’s not real flying. I met a school teacher and PPG pilot at AirVenture 2011 who said that’s what he was told by some “real” pilots. I think Paul Poberezny might disagree. That school teacher PPG pilot hauled his plane to AirVenture on the back of his motorcycle, and we hope to have his story in a future issue. My advice for pilots of unconventional aircraft is to take a clue from the Vance Breese article “The Answer.” Flying is flying, and as soon as we take off, we have arrived at our destination.