Paralyzed former fighter pilot takes to the slopes for the first time at age 91
The Denver Post
WINTER PARK – Paralyzed by strokes and living in a nursing home, Bob Hodges had a single wish.
To feel speed.
“Oh I’d like to go fast,” he said, as a consortium of wish-making helpers strapped him into a sit-ski at Winter Park’s famed National Sports Center for the Disabled. “I’m not afraid to try,” Hodges said.
And fast he went, skiing for the first time in his 91 years. Arcing wide carves in soft snow under a cloudless sky, Hodges relished that elusive sensation of speed and flight that were once his domain.
Lt. Col. Hodges spent 30 years as an Air Force fighter pilot during both World War II and the Vietnam War. His unit was the first to fly the North Atlantic route to England. Today, he can move only his left hand and head.
That’s all he needed Sunday. Leaning his head and sliding his hand, he was able to turn the shock-absorbing seat mounted atop skis. The skis grabbed snow and he felt the pull of gravity.
“It’s a lot like flying. You lean in your airplane too,” he said. “But flying is smoother. Flying, you have more control.”
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