Accustomed to Wheels, Thrill-Seeking Injured Veterans Take Flight

September 6, 2011

ABLE Pilot Takes to the Sky

Paraglider1

Read the New York Times story and watch the footage from the training camp. SUN VALLEY, ID – In early August, five spinal cord injury (SCI) veterans joined Mechanical Engineering professor Dr. Don Bloswick and ABLE Pilot for a training camp in SCI Paragliding.

The participating veterans do not have the use of their legs – which is where the Department of Mechanical Engineering is involved. Mark Gaskill, form ABLE Pilot, approached Dr. Bloswick and his team to design an “adaptive flight chair” to enable SCI persons to paraglide solo. In last month’s training camp, the veterans flew in both the Phoenix 1.0 and an improved Phoenix 1.5.

The original Phoenix 1.0, was developed and built under the direction of Dr. Don Bloswick by four M.E. undergraduate students. Professor Bloswick and design team member Bryon Densley were at the training camp on Tuesday and Wednesday working with the vets. Densley was on the original Phoenix 1.0 team along with M.E. undergrads Chris Graves, Travis Smith, and Ben Davidson. All four students graduated with Bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering in the spring of 2010, but Densley is continuing to work on the Phoenix project for his Master’s degree research.

Dr. Andrew Merryweather and Faris Ali, who recently started his Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering at the U, were instrumental in the design and fabrication of the new Phoenix 1.5. More information about this project can be found at the following links: Flying High Without Any Restraints – Sun Valley News Paragliding for Everyone – Story by KSL News