Friday morning we we fortunate enough to get the local CTV news crew out to shoot a story on the success we've been having teaching Lonnie to fly hang gliders over the past few weeks. Simply teaching someone to fly wasn't what attracted them to the Story....but the fact that Lonnie has a spinal cord injury and is a paraplegic and rather confined to a wheel chair is what lured them out!
We've been working with Lonnie since May on working out what we needed gear and logistics-wise to adapt our teaching methods to suit his needs and abilities...and then life schedules and weather got in the way from getting him into the air sooner but over the past three weeks, we've finally got things together and Lonnie has had 30 flights on our adapted WillsWing Falcon170 trainer glider reaching altitudes of 150' as we slowly progress him through our standard training methods.
It really has made us realize that it doesn't take much to adapt hang gliding to accommodate his needs and look forward to liberating Lonnie by progressing him to a point where he can soar with any and every other pilot. He has actually learned as fast or swifter than other students....which is normal since everyone progresses through our training at different rates anyways.
Watch for the interview on the South Western Ontario CTV News first airing on Monday on the main 6PM news and then re-running on the 11:30PM news that night and then again at the lunch hour news on Tuesday. It will then be featured on Janine Grespan's life-style page on CTVs website.
A big thanks to our student Nick Jones. He not only is excelling with his own training but he's been a huge help in this project by taking the initiative to video, edit and publish Lonnie's first flights and then sent the video to CTV which grabbed their attention immediately. We were meaning to do the same but it's tough to do it all on our own. He then came out on Friday to prep gear and help with the interviews. Unfortunately the winds were too strong to video Lonnie flying that day but they are hoping to come back to do some follow up....and maybe even go for a tandem or take an intro lesson themselves.