Quincey Carr of Hayward, California, believes some people could do better in life if they had more self-confidence.
“You have to believe in yourself, love yourself, know what you want to do, and never settle,” says Carr, 25. He knew what he wanted to do at the age of 9—fly airplanes. He took flight lessons as soon as he could, earning his private pilot certificate at age 17 in 2002. Soon after, he wrapped up his instrument rating and later, on August 11, 2006, he couldn’t wait to celebrate passing a knowledge test toward earning his commercial certificate.
But Carr never got the chance to celebrate. At a barbershop in East Oakland, Carr was shot five times after a brief dispute with a passerby. One bullet sliced into his spine, another hit his spleen, and still another nicked his heart. As he lay on the floor bleeding, the man shot him two more times, once in each leg. During an investigation, a 32-year-old exconvict was identified by numerous witnesses, later arrested, and is currently serving more than 40 years in prison.
The accident left Carr paralyzed. After months of recuperation and physical therapy, he now uses a wheelchair to get around. And slowly he got back into flying. After all, he was told, he doesn’t need legs to fly, he needs wings.
“And hand controls,” said Carr. “I have to fly with them now using the same aircraft everyone else uses.”
In spite of his disability, Carr earned his commercial certificate in 2008 and is working toward becoming a CFI. He wants to build flight time in order to apply for a job in the California Fire Service as an aerial firefighter.
Carr’s biggest challenge right now isn’t that he’s in a wheelchair, it’s that he struggles to pay for flight training expenses.
He recently started working as a part-time ground instructor at Hayward Flight School at Hayward Executive Airport in the San Francisco Bay area.
“He is very consistent and very motivating, more so than other people his age. I can walk, I have only one job, and he is doing better than me in life,” says Dominic Kensof, manager of the flight school. “Every day I see him at the airport, I feel like I have to do much better.”
Carr knows that things can only get better. He recently moved out of his mom’s place and into his own apartment. He looks forward to finishing college and owning an airplane some day.
“I’m 30 percent done with my CFI training and I don’t get many breaks,” he says. “I know I have to be in control and keep my mind right. Someone out there may be in a worse situation than I am, so instead of asking myself ‘why me?’ I ask myself ‘why not me’?”
What can you do to help someone get into flying? Make the first step by visiting the Let’s Go Flying Web site—and share it with a friend or two.