Looking Back on Walking Away
A true story of building, flying, crashing. Followed by severe injury, rare surgery, and lessons learned.
Five seconds earlier: gusting winds, moment of distraction, flared high, bounced, landed hard, bent the nose-wheel, skidded off runway, hit the dirt, and flipped the plane. This can't be happening. My beautiful plane is wrecked, Gail and I are hurt, and my shining sense of pride is suddenly tarnished.
Years of dreams shattered in an instant. There's an old pilot saying that goes, "Any landing you walk away from is a good landing." This wry bit of gallows humor goes on to ask, "Do you know the difference between a good landing and a great landing? After a great landing, the plane can still fly." On June 15, 2013, I didn't have a great landing.I didn't even have a good one! My wife and I found ourselves on backboards with our heads strapped down, as we were whisked away in separate ambulances.
The writers purpose for telling this experience has been to share an esoteric story about building and flying an experimental airplane, surviving neck injuries that almost always result in death or paralysis, being the subject of a successful rare surgical procedure, and borrowing some insights along the way.
The speed has been exhilarating, the highs and lows extreme, and the life-changing lessons worth learning. I hope you enjoy the flight.