»Who needs legs if I can have wings?!«
This was what Jan Hercek, a paraplegic, exclaimed when he received his modified Taurus with hands-only commands. Health conditions, problems with coordination or simply preferences are no longer obstacles on your way to flight. Pipistrel aircraft can be fully customized to hands-only controls.
“I had a really ambitious plan,” Jan said.
“I decided to fly despite my disability and I wanted an aircraft which will allow me to do this. I wanted a plane which could stay in the air for a very long time, enough for me to enjoy the flying, and then return home without worrying if I had enough altitude or fuel. So this meant I needed a self-launching glider with superb flying characteristics. I had another very important request: the aircraft must allow me to get in and out of the cockpit without help, and to be able to take the wheelchair with me.
It also had to be a two-seater, because I didn’t have my pilot license at the time – so I would have to do the training first and take my instructor with me.”
So in short words, the Pipistrel Taurus was an ideal choice. We adapted it to Jan’s exact needs and requests.
The greatest construction challenge – how to make the controls of the aircraft useful for a man with no use of his legs – has a perfect solution: the horn-type controls.
“All the time during the construction, I was cooperating with the factory. I made sure I was informed about everything. I must say they were very helpful and obliging, letting me know everything I wanted and participate in the process. Throughout the entire construction process, I maintained almost daily communication with Pipistrel. I want to make people understand why some things must be done in a certain way – this way I can make sure that they will do their work properly. I found that Pipistrel thought in much the same way. I was really glad of this way of thinking when they listened to me coach them on how to adapt the controls of the aircraft for a man who has no use of his legs.”
“My second visit to Pipistrel was not just exciting; it was downright thrilling, because I got to fly my new Taurus! My plan for was to test myself and also to convince Pipistrel that it was possible to make a good airplane for disabled people; and for disable people to fly such an airplane well! We started very carefully. The instructor took off and in mid-air he simply asked me to hold the controls and fly straight. I was surprised; it was much easier than expected. The controls worked well, being soft and easy to handle. I needed very little force to operate them. After several hours of practice it started to feel very natural for me and it became quite easy to manipulate this type of controls.”
Jan Hercek gave us another warm smile before saying:
“The Pipistrel crew packed my shiny new Taurus in a trailer and off I went, so overjoyed I could barely move! It is now time to finish my story for the public – although for me the story of happily flying in my new Taurus is only just beginning.”
So what does this mean? You don’t need leg controls if you want to have wings! Everything is possible and all the Pipistrel aircraft can be fully modified to the needs of each individual customer.
Jan Hercek has a Youtube channel where he shares some videos of himself flying: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheGlidingTomcat