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Igor Sedyakin

A paraplegic takes to the air

While still in hospital I happened upon an advertisement in the Spinal Injuries Association Journal, offering the possibility of flying in and piloting a light PA-28 aircraft with manual controls. That was how it all began.

After discussing it with my physiotherapist, he kindly agreed to take me to the airfield, which is near Salisbury. On first taking to the air with my instructor, I was delighted to discover that with a little guidance I was quite capable of controlling the aircraft.

It is no exaggeration to say that the experience of flying has restored my zest for life. Like many in my situation I had previously been incapable of throwing off a profound sense of helplessness and inadequacy. It is not a lot of fun sitting in a wheelchair and watching ordinary people going about their business. One is overcome by a sense of living only incompletely.

Now I have come to realise, I can't walk, but I can fly. And that gives me the strength to deal with all the problems, of which I have more than my fair share at the moment.

After my first trial flight, I discovered and joined the Aviation for Paraplegics and Tetraplegics Trust. I am now undergoing proper flying training. My first ten-day stay in the APT mobile homes at the Old Sarum Airfield was fabulous. Every day packed with instruction in theory and actual flying. Contact with people who share my disability and my outlook on life. It is all a wonderful experience, and my intention now is to complete my training course and get my National Private Pilots Licence.