Parapalegic pilot earns wings — and the respect of his peers


Learning to fly is challenging for most people. You have to get the money together and put in the time, overcome learning plateaus, and weather, and equipment challenges. Scott Miller from Albia, Iowa, had an additional challenge on the path to getting his wings — he is in a wheelchair.

Miller’s journey began in 2006 while serving in the National Guard. He was riding his motorcycle home from a military drill in Des Moines, when he hit a pothole and crashed. The accident broke his back, paralyzing him from the waist down.

While the accident changed Miller’s life, he said it also made him appreciate life more. “I don’t take anything for granted,” the 25-year-old notes.

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Bonanza caught in fog

Aircraft: Beech Bonanza. Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious. Location: Correctionville, Iowa. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The commercial pilot was in cruise flight at night and receiving flight-following services. The airplane was instrument equipped and the pilot held an instrument rating.

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Thorp destroyed in flight

Aircraft: Thorp T-18. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Pahokee, Fla. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: Family members notified authorities when the airplane was overdue. The wreckage was found in pieces along the route of flight the next day.

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Spatial disorientation kills four

Aircraft: Piper Matrix. Injuries: 4 Fatal. Location: Greensburg, Ind. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The instrument-rated private pilot was executing a non-precision instrument approach procedure at night in deteriorating weather conditions. According to GPS track data, he executed the approach as published, but descended below the missed approach point’s minimum altitude before executing a climbing right turn.

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Cirrus escapes during hand-propping

Aircraft: Cirrus SR22. Injuries: None. Location: Eden Prairie, Minn. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: When the pilot attempted to start the engine, the starter motor turned, but the starter did not engage. He turned off the battery master switch, exited the airplane, and walked around to the front of the airplane. He reached through the door and thought the ignition key was off.

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Turbulence destroys King Air

Aircraft: Beech King Air. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Amarillo, Texas. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The accident happened during an IFR cross-country flight.  The 1,650-hour pilot, who held an instrument rating, was in contact with air traffic control during the flight. The controller cleared the plane to flight level 210 and gave the pilot permission to deviate east to avoid weather and traffic.

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