Paraplegics in the Lower Mainland may soon get their wings, thanks to a couple innovative aviators from Surrey.
On Tuesday, English paraplegic pilot, Ben Goodridge departed from Florida in a newly modified Icarus plane, destined to land at King George Aviation in Surrey.
Goodridge and his co-pilot – along with King George Aviation manager, Arnold Klappe – intend to establish the first flight training program for paraplegics in British Columbia.
“This is the first dedicated program I am aware of,” said Klappe, proud of what he hopes to accomplish.
“To fly a plane, the pushing of pedals are involved, making it impossible for a paraplegic to fly in a regular Icarus,” states Klappe. “The modified plane Ben is bringing up is equipped with hand controllers, so the use of feet is irrevelant.”
Klappe said flying strips away any physical differences between he and Goodridge.
“It one of those things that makes us equal,” he said. “When he’s flying, he’s like everybody else.”
Goodridge was paralyzed at the age of two, when he was hit by a car. But, he has overcome his condition and earned both his U.S. certification and his British license. As of Tuesday, Aug. 28, he will officially be a certified pilot in Canada, as well.
Klappe said he is still figuring out how the program will run, but he plans to frame it around his current flight training program – 20 hours of ground school and 17 hours of flight time.
Goodridge and the modified plane are expected to land at the King George Airfield after their 33-hour journey sometime on Monday, August 27th.