Our Hydro patient Kelvin loves to live life to the full - so much so we'd like to share with you his inspirational story. After spending 2 months in hospital after an intracerebral haemorrhage Kelvin was left with a weak left arm and left leg. He is now back flying - yes flying!
This is my forth flight and this time I flew the whole flight. On the previous flights the affected left arm needed to be placed on the airbrake with the good hand and I could not release the tow rope without the instructors help. The affected arm once gripping the airbrake is strong enough to crack it open and finely control the rate of desent with no problems. The Gym work has paid off I can push 25kgs and pull 30kgs. But I still cannot open the fingers enough and stretch the arm out unless supported (work in progress) to grab the tow release toggle.
What I do now is keep that hand on the air brake all the time, which fortunately is not suffering as badly from the spasticity as it was several months ago – but still a long way to go.
The tow release was done by gripping the control stick with my knees and I used the good hand to release the tow rope. It’s been 16 months since I last flew a light aircraft without assistance, so it was nice to be in full control of a flight at last. Still an odd feeling being towed, 10 years ago I did used to tow gliders for a bit of fun – although it wasn’t quite as much fun as imagined, on a very hot day it was sweaty, stressful, and engine failure under full load being so high was always in the back of your mind so you had to look out all the time for a possible field to land in as well as keep a constant speed with a heavy lump of the older wooden gliders tugging at the constant airframe in a then worn out underpowered 40 year old Piper Super Cub it was pretty hard work I must say.
As regards to going solo again ?
Well, it is possible. Evidently all you need to prove is that you are in full control of the aircraft. Going back to power flying will mean buying a suitable aircraft that can be adapted and be expensive and to be honest unless it was aerobatic which is way beyond my reduced salary now, it would be the same level of enjoyment or thrill , you can’t beat that feeling of pulling G’s in a loop or suddenly feeling weightless at the top the loop if you get it wrong and end up falling out of the sky, it certainly gets the old pulse rising a bit - Brilliant!
Gliding is a new challenge, staying up and finding a lift back home is exciting enough especially if forced to land out in a field. But many gliders are aerobatic and very graceful requiring a lot of skill in energy management. So that’s my long term goal." Kelvin