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Flying Again Is Freedom for a Veteran Helicopter Pilot and Double Amputee

Despite losing her legs in the Iraq war, former Black Hawk helicopter pilot and assistant secretary in the Department of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth is still an avid and capable flier. While flying her single-engine Piper Cherokee she wears an artificial limb on her left leg, allowing her to work both rudder pedals. “It’s joy when I’m back in the aircraft and I’m up in the air, because this is what I used to do,” says Duckworth. Prior to her injury, Duckworth had logged more than 1,000 hours of flight time over 11 years. In 2008 she had logged about 10 hours in a small aircraft until a commitment to campaign for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama put her retraining plans temporarily on hold. Duckworth intends to obtain a license to pilot fixed-wing planes in the coming months, and then her goal is to fly civilian helicopters, which may require special modifications to the aircraft.

September 16, 2009

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