Chair to soar as Jacka goes solo

WHEN it comes to making dreams come true, all you need is determination and some great mates to help you soar to great heights.

Griffith man Gordon McCaw, his son Paul and other members of the Griffith Aero Club, Bob Frauenfelder and Michael Prince, will be part of the flight team helping Melbourne’s David Jacka in his journey to become the first person with quadriplegia to fly solo around Australia on a mission called “On A Wing and a Chair”.

They won’t be raising money for charity, simply awareness of what people with disabilities can do.

Mr Jacka broke the fifth vertebrae in his neck in a motorbike accident four days before his 20th birthday, leaving him with quadriplegia.

Mr McCaw, who was left a paraplegic after a flying accident in 1984, said he was happy to help raise expectations of what people with disabilities could achieve and provide inspiration for people with or without disabilities to achieve their own challenging goals.

“I’ve known Dave for a few years,” Mr McCaw said.

“He has limited arm function, no finger function and an inability to move any part of his body from the armpits down.

“The trip will take around five weeks. The reason Dave wants to do this is to show you can achieve and dream.”

Mr McCaw has been involved in flying for years – from gliders to obtaining his GA pilot’s licence in 2006 with paraplegia.

The well-known retired TAFE teacher is Griffith Aero Club’s treasurer and president of Griffith Neighbourhood House.

“I’m looking forward to helping Dave attempt a world record,” he said. 

“He has a carer who helps him get in the plane and then he is left to fly it alone.”

Mr Jacka flies a custom, modified Jabiru J230 aircraft and because he has no finger movement and limited hand and arm function, he has designed a number of special controls to allow him to fly the plane on his own.

He will fly 16,000 kilometres on his incredible journey around the Australian coastline with his wheelchair in tow, proving to others that a disability does not define you.

FLYING HIGH: Griffith Aero Club members Bob Frauenfelder, Paul McCaw, Michael Prince and (front) Gordon McCaw will be part of the flight crew helping Melbourne man Dave Jacka become the first person with quadriplegia to fly solo around Australia. Picture: Anthony Stipo

FLYING HIGH: Griffith Aero Club members Bob Frauenfelder, Paul McCaw, Michael Prince and (front) Gordon McCaw will be part of the flight crew helping Melbourne man Dave Jacka become the first person with quadriplegia to fly solo around Australia. Picture: Anthony Stipo