Twelve weeks ago I was certain that my flying days were over, because the psychological traumas of falling out of the sky and yet surviving the airplane crash were too much to cope with; not to mention dealing with the physical issues of a broken back and a brain tumor.
Seven weeks ago I was doubtful that I’d ever be able to walk again because the surgery to remove the tumor had paralyzed the entire right side of my body. The doctors said it was “only temporary” and that I’d “eventually recover”, but at least initially I did not share their optimism.
The three weeks spent in the hospital were a roller coaster of emotions and immense physical challenges, as I tried to regain a perspective on my world and re-establish the nerve pathways from my brain to my right arm and leg.
Four weeks ago I hobbled out of the hospital with the help of a cane and leg brace, unable to write or eat with my right hand; yet somehow I harbored the goal of resuming a normal lifestyle. Without a doubt it was the love, support and encouragement from hundreds of well-wishers that gave me the encouragement to pursue that seemingly unattainable goal. And, in particular, it was the positive energy from the pilot community throughout the ordeal that led me to think about flying once again.
I’m pleased to report that this morning I went flying for the first time since the crash in an AirShares Elite Cirrus SR22, accompanied by Nathan Zucker, a Master Instructor. As I pushed the throttle forward for takeoff, the essence of flying sprung out of a hidden corner in my brain: the joy of lifting off and flying; the natural desire to “wear the airplane” as the mind and body meld with the machine; the beauty of soaring over terrain and manipulating the controls; the intense concentration of maneuvering through the skies and then setting up for an approach and landing.
Since I won’t be able to regain my medical certificate until 2007, an instructor will sit in the co-pilot’s seat for all my flights. For now, I plan on flying 125 hours per year, or an average of 2-4 Angel Flight missions per month.
Ah, life is good....
September 19, 2005