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1st paralyzed pilot (veteran) to fly a helicopter is featured at AirVenture 2022, Oshkosh

One of the most intriguing exhibits, Booth 355 at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022, Jul. 25 – Jul. 31, is co-hosted by Rotor X and the National Veterans Vocational Village (NV3) Foundation (www.NV3Foundation.org), a 501(c)3 headquartered in Colorado Springs, CO.

This Rotorway 162F is modified with the only FAA-approved device to allow people with paraplegia to fly helicopters. The mechanic and inventor is a former RAF/USAF fighter pilot who is paralyzed, Captain (Ret) Stewart McQuillan. 

Stewart medically retired from the Royal Air Force after his Tornado GR-1 fighter plane broke up on take-off, crushing his spinal cord. As soon as he could, he requalified as a pilot in fixed-wing aircraft using hand controls. King Hussein of Jordan approached Stewart at pilot training graduation to ask if Stewart would learn to fly helicopters. An engineer by trade, he took up the challenge to get behind the stick. As a result, the Aeroleg (Patent Pending) was created and FAA-approved. Stewart became the first paraplegic to fly a helicopter in 2001.

Last year, Stewart took his invention one step further and installed the functionality of the Aeroleg into an experimental helicopter. He has spent the last year at Rotorway-Rework in Lake City, FL, building the Rotorway 162F with the help of a specialized Permobil ™ wheelchair and a self-made gantry system to work from above. He is the first paraplegic to fly a helicopter AND the first to build one.

Stewart, with NV3 partners Col Sean McClung, USAF (Ret), and 2018 US Air Force Spouse of the Year, Kristen Christy, has a big vision. Visit 24 VA Spinal Cord Injury Centers with the helicopter to bring hope to patients and establish a training program for veterans in a village setting, enabling them to recapture the joys of flying and other vocations.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 30,000 veterans have died by suicide — four times the number of US military personnel who died in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. NV3 provides the veteran with a sense of community and continued value to society, contributing to long-term health and survival. The helicopter’s tail number “N988VV”  underscores the organization’s commitment to resilience and suicide prevention. The 9*8*8 number has three functions: the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Veterans Crisis Line, and the Military Crisis Line and was activated across the nation on July 16, 2022. Kristen, NV3’s President, co-sponsored the three-digit hotline number to break down barriers during the darkest of times.

By encouraging new careers and skills for our veterans in a safe, familiar residential setting, NV3’s village creates a sense of community and esprit de corps among people in similar circumstances. NV3, with trained professionals, comes alongside veterans from military and first responder communities to empower them to live life to their full potential.

If you are in Oshkosh for the airshow, stop by the Rotor X display at Booth 355 to see this one-of-a-kind helicopter, meet Stewart, and talk about his vision to help disabled veterans. Contributions and gifts are tax-deductible.

READ MORE ROTORCRAFT PRO: https://justhelicopters.com/Magazine


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