SKY HIGH: Lismore pilot Nathan Parker, 22, was presented with his wings for achieving his flight instructor qualification by Northern Rivers Aero Club president Wally Soward.
SKY HIGH: Lismore pilot Nathan Parker, 22, was presented with his wings for achieving his flight instructor qualification by Northern Rivers Aero Club president Wally Soward. ALISON PATERSON

Sky-high dream: 'Just give me the opportunity'

"DON'T tell me what I can't do, just give me the opportunity to try."

Strong words from Lismore pilot Nathan Parker, 22, who qualified for his flight instructor rating on Friday afternoon.

Mr Parker, who lost his left arm in November 2015 in an Australian Defence Force Academy bus crash, said he owed the Lismore aviation community, including the Northern Rivers Aero Club, a great deal of thanks.

 

"There were no ifs or buts," he said of the tough love the club instructors showed.

"They said 'let's get you in the aeroplane and see what you can do'.

"While I was determined to not let this amputation define me, I didn't listen to the people who told me I could not get my flight instructor licence.

"I've done a lot of flying and training over the past six to eight months with an instructor from the Northern Rivers and they and my family and friends have given so much wonderful support."

Now Mr Parker can instruct in light, two-seater aircraft with a maximum lift-off weight of 600kg.

He said there were a lot of challenges to overcome and he really drew on the positive and supportive approach from the members of the Northern Rivers Aero Club.

"One was learning how to use my robotic prosthesis to control the aeroplane. This took a bit of getting used to," he said.

"It has not been easy but its been so worthwhile and now I hope to progress to get my commercial licence, make aviation my career and help around the club with instruction."

And he admitted the journey had not been easy, but he got through the dark times knowing so many people had his back.

"Everyone has been so positive about what we are working on together to get my instruction rating," he said.

Club president Wally Soward said Mr Parker was a pleasure to teach.

"Nathan's a remarkable young guy," he said.

"He has the initiative to have a go and the will to get there and that's what got him through."

Since the accident, Mr Parker has been working hard on another goal, to compete in Sydney at the Invictus Games next month.

"I won't be piloting myself there, though," he said with a grin.

"Invictus (organisers) are flying me down."



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