Paul Zimmerman Quad GA Pilot
In 1955 I had polio as a baby. I've always used a wheelchair
and always had
a passion to fly.
When I was still exploring the possibility of flying, I needed to try a 150 with handcontrols. I met Mindy Desens and Richard Logan and flew with them for a couple days in 1993 at LJF in Litchfield, MN. After flying Mindy's 150 I knew the dream was real. They are great people and I hope they are still helping disabled pilots get their wings.
In October 1996 I earned a Private Pilot certificate and
was no longer stuck on earth. My Cessna 150, which I have owned for 6
years, is equipped with a handcontrol that was manufactured in Sturgis,
Kentucky. The handcontrol is STCed for Cessna 172, 206, and other Cessna's
but not the 150, so I obtained a field approval.
I looked for a plane with shoulder harnesses. To get into the airplane I
wear a mountain climber harness and pull myself in with a small chain
hoist. The attach point for the chain is directly above the pilot seat. It
is created it by stringing a cable between the shoulder harness attach
points in the ceiling and then passing a steel pipe from the right rear
cargo tie down ring to an islet in the cable. This puts the lifting point
directly above the seat. Since I am a quadriplegic (I use an electric
wheelchair) my weight is only 120 lbs. so this does not put a strain on the
In one of the pictures that I've sent, you can see a small table that also
assists in the transfer. It is made from one of those collapsible chairs
you find in Kmart for about $5 and a piece of wing core foam. The foam is
very strong and very light. The whole package: hoist, seat, metal pipe, and
hand control weigh 15 pounds. I can also use a manual chair and this I fold
and place behind the seats. It is tied down in the standing position.
From preflight, to entry, and seat forward I can be out flying within 15
minutes. My 150 has been a pleasure and has not had many problems. It is a
full IFR trainer and is a pleasure to fly cross country. I have flown it on
7 hour trips and much prefer it to an equivalent excursion in my van.
(Pilot convenience bags are a great accessory.)
My present base is Eau Claire, Wisconsin and my wife and I are planning
trips to Cleveland, where we used to live, and the Black Hills this year.
The little plane has been an economical way to get around and sure beats
the airlines for first class comfort! At 6.25 gal/hr it is usually cheaper
than an economy class ticket and will always take you where you want to go.
Plus you have time to enjoy the countryside!
Chippewa Falls, WI