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Joe Morgan’s Flight


It takes five people to situate Joe Morgan into the sailplane—three to hoist him out of his power wheelchair and two, one at his legs and another at his shoulders, to maneuver his body into the front seat.

The effort is worth it. The group steps away from the sailplane, and Joe takes a long look at his wheelchair, now empty, sitting beside the cockpit on the grass.

Joe Morgan, a spinal cord injury survivor whose story we were grateful to share in depth last month, calls this the fulfillment of a “twenty-year wish.” Inside a two-seat LET L-23 “Super Blanik” glider, he’ll be towed behind a single-engine prop plane to a height of over 3000 feet.

His copilot for the day is 83-year-old Jaime Alexander, a Wright Brothers Award-winning aviation professional with more than 50 years of experience in his tenure. Together, Jaime and Joe will detach from the tow plane at cruising altitude and navigate the channels of rising air in slow, steady arcs.

It’s an adventure many might consider impossible, manning a sailplane after a severe spinal cord injury. But after Joe pitched the idea to his team at QLI, his adaptive sports specialist and Durham Center therapy team quickly sought out the resources to make it a reality. QLI was on the phone with Nebraska’s Blair Municipal Airport and their weekly Soaring Club, and within days, the date was set.

Joe’s amazing flight serves as both inspiration and affirmation for him, a reminder that his injury isn’t a permanent sentence to his wheelchair.

Joe triumphantly states: “You can achieve anything you desire under any condition.”

Check out the video below for Joe’s first-person perspective of this memorable experience:

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