Flying to the top of my own mountain
Ever since I was a kid I have always been fascinated by the idea of flying but once I had my accident I assumed that dream would never come true. How wrong I was!
A couple of years after I got home to the farm I discovered there was an ultralight club in my home town of Warialda and my enthusiasm was immediately re-ignited. Thanks to the support and enthusiasm of one of the local instructors I learnt to fly a Quicksilver MX2, a two-axes aircraft which incredibly required no modification for me to fly. It had two controls - a rudder and elevator which were operated by a single joystick between the two seats.
Flying became a very powerful symbol for me. When you're disabled you have to rely on a lot of people to help you, but once I was fuelled up and into my ultralight I was in control and could do something that other people couldn't. There was nothing like the feeling of leaving the earth and looking back at my empty wheelchair....my faithful dog Dusty waiting beside (PICTURED ABOVE).
My ultralight was quite simple to transfer into (see above). One strut was partially in the way, but otherwise it was more or less a clean transfer from my chair to the seat.
I could do all the flight checks myself, so once Dad had my aircraft pulled out of the hanger and fuelled up I was able to do the rest on my own. In the early days I used to fly for hours, just landing to re-fuel and take off again. It was fantastic because I could take all my friends for a fly and it was something I could do for them. It was a dream come true and proved to me anything was possible.
Now I am working towards becoming the first quadriplegic in the world to fly a helicopter. I then plan to fly it into schools around Australia to inspire children to achieve their own dreams no matter what challenges they encounter. The project is called Helifirst and is sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.