THE WHEELS UP PROGRAM
The WheelsUp Program (501c3 status pending) is a research and instructional program that gives the gift of flight to the physically disabled. Whether an individual has lost mobility to spinal cord injuries, amputations, or neuromuscular disease, the WheelsUp Program (WHUP) lets them safely experience the joy and empowerment of free flight and reclaim their freedom in the air.
"This type of transformation [enabled by adaptive sports] is one of the reasons the Department of Veterans Affairs has enthusiastically supported what leaders there describe as an exponential increase in extreme sports, providing money for equipment and training. As risky as the activities may be, they are viewed as preferable to the drinking and depression that often follow lifealtering injuries."
—New York Times, front-page article front-page article, Sept. 4, 2011
WHUP focuses on military veterans and civilians alike. Instruction to the disabled is provided in paragliding, hang gliding and ultralight flying by leading American pilots and instructors. Program benefits include:
• The reduction of social and recreational isolation
• Self-controlled three-dimensional movement through flying
• Participation in aerial competitions with able and disabled pilots
WHAT WE ARE DOING
WHUP instructors, now in their second year, have been supported by grants from the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and local Adaptive Sports branches. Our team of instructors and pilots develops pilot skills that give the disabled new expression. Working with engineers from the University of Utah, we are developing free flight-specific chairs for both pilot training and solo disabled flight.
WHUP builds on our experiences training disabled veterans. In 2012, our goal is to use a pilot program to create training centers throughout the country that open up the gift of flight to both military and civilian disabled alike.
WHO WE ARE
Nicholas Greece: Editor, USHPA; America’s Paragliding Champion, 2011; top-ranked pilot in US, advanced paragliding instructor; leading expert on disabled free flight training in the US
Rob Sporrer: Owner, Eagle Paragliding, Santa Barbara, CA, leading paragliding training facility in US. USHPA Instructor of the Year, 2009; USHPA Board of Directors
Dr. Don Bloswick: Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Utah.
Dr. Andrew Merryweather: Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Utah.
Bill Belcourt: American paragliding pioneer; Climbing Hard Goods Manager, Black Diamond Equipment
WHAT WE NEED
Funding for pilot program for gear, training, and travel budget: $25K
Funding will underwrite:
• Two camps at Eagle Paragliding, Santa Barbara, CA
• Training of two veterans, one civilian
• Fees for three instructors
New York Times front page article, VIDEO
ABC News: 2 episodes currently under development
NBC with Brian Williams: 3-minute episode, slated for publication in April, currently under development
Feature-length film: under development (Nils Dachler, Director Photographer)
Funding is available to tour the film nationally and internationally. For more information, contact Nick Greece: firstname.lastname@example.org / 516-816-1333