UNDEFEATED: Pilot says losing arm will not define him
WHEN Lismore man Nathan Parker was not flying an aeroplane with his robotic arm, he was preparing for the Invictus and Warrior games for military personnel.
After losing his left arm in November 2015 in an Australian Defence Force Academy bus crash the 23-year-old pilot was determined to not let his amputation define him.
"(The crash) left me with some pretty serious injuries, including the amputation of my left hand, tendon damage to my right hand and facial lacerations," Mr Parker said.
Since the accident, Mr Parker has been working hard in his rehabilitation to reach his "big goal" of the Sydney Invictus Games.
"It will be a cool home games, on home soil and in front of a home crowd," Mr Parker said.
"I was very lucky to go last year but 2018 games in Sydney has always been the bigger aim, the big focus."
He will be competing in the 400, 200 and 100 metres athletics events and the four minute and one minute indoor rowing events.
In preparation for the games, Mr Parker competed in the events at the US military Warrior Games winning three gold, one silver and two bronze medals for Australia.
"We took a team of 13 athletes and we had an awesome time, we were the loudest team there, everyone loved our inflatable kangaroo," he said.
In 2017, Mr Parker competed in his first Invictus Games in Toronto, winning two bronze medals in athletics and two silver in rowing.
"The biggest thing I got out of it was the experiences and meeting a whole bunch of different people who had been through challenges and adversity," Mr Parker said.
"Many far worse than I have ever faced or will ever face, and seeing how they've taken it on the chin and pushed on and not let those injuries and illnesses define them and what they can achieve."
Growing up Mr Parker never imagined himself as a sportsman, or have any big sporting ambitions.
"When the accident happened my mind sort of shifted to when one door closes another one opens," he said.
"Fortunately, as a result of the accident the opportunity to try and participate in events such as this opened up and thought why not give it a crack and see what happens."
Over the last six months, Mr Parker has been back at the Northern Rivers Aero Club retraining and re-qualifying himself to fly with his robotic arm and teaching other aspiring pilots as well.
"I just recently was able to get my class two medical certificate back, which means I can progress towards my private pilot license," he said.
"I learnt to fly at the Northern Rivers Aero Club when I was 14 and to come back and have the support of the instructors here and the club members has been massive in enabling me to get back into the air and do what I love to do."
"I am so grateful for the opportunity and just want to encourage people to look up the Invictus Games, learn what it is about and really watch it because you are really going to be amazed at the things you are going to see."