TO BE CRAZY OR NOT TO BE - that is the question…

TO BE CRAZY OR NOT TO BE - that is the question…

What is the strange force that drives a man to discover the unknown and risk his life in an apparently meaningless way?

Why does a man living an ordinary but happy family life leave home and become involved in a dangerous and clearly threatening adventure?

Are we faced with crazy people with little love for being alive?

Who can to answer these questions? Philosophers, psychologists, and other scientists, supported by vast amounts of research documented in enormous libraries, can probably explain the motivating factors in terms not readily understood. Nevertheless, ordinary people can easily see that most of the adventures, even the unsuccessful ones, leave behind great value, written in gold.

That fabulous experience that has enriched mankind from the beginning of time, and in the countless successive steps that followed, have contributed greatly to the progress of humanity.

António Faria e Mello
Wheelchair Aviator
Earthrounder (1995)
Lisbon – Portugal

Why another Flight Around the World ?

There is always a reason...
I read in one of the aviation magazines that a man confined to a wheelchair had flown solo around the world in a single engine aircraft. Rode Rodewald was his name and he was a member of a small group of pilots who called themselves the California Wheelchair Aviators. They were based in Escondido California near San Diego. The idea of flying around the world went to my head and the first step was to meet this guy and the people in the CWA.
In 1987 I flew commercial from Lisbon to the States and met Rode and Bill Blackwood, President and founder of the CWA group. Meeting these two men changed the course of my life.

Rode was an extraordinary person. As a pilot in World War II he flew in China against the Japanese with the Flying Tigers under the command of the famous General Chennault and later he flew fighter aircraft in the Pacific and again in the Korean conflict. Rode was severely injured when his fighter experienced engine failure in Washington D.C. and was thereafter confined to his wheelchair. He passed away in September 2002.
Bill Blackwood had also been an aviator in WW II and was injured after the war by faulty operation of his ejection seat following a problem with his jet fighter. I could see in Bill incredible courage and determination flavoured with an impressive humble manner that commanded immediate respect. Bill invited me for a ride in his Cherokee 180 and I was delighted to see him operating the bird with the hand controls he had designed himself and for which he had obtained FAA approval.

Ten years earlier, following my military and commercial aviation career, destiny placed me in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. Bill Blackwood and Rode Rodewald took my hand and gave me all the vectors for other courses and other skies. Long conversations with Bill and Rode cheered me up. I remember every bit of these talks with my entire being. What they said to me was like scattering seed over the fruitful soil of my dreams - all of which has germinated and blossomed.

And as my destiny continues to unfold, in 1995, I flew my Beech F33A Bonanza solo eastward around the world. Afterward, I met Rode again in the States (Carson City, Nevada – 26 July 1998, eleven years after I met him for the first time) and we compared notes on our experiences. Let his soul remain in peace. I will always remember Rode Rodewald as a great pilot, a great man, and above all as the man who changed the course of my life.


Now, the project:

Once again I am caught by adventure's swirl, into that mystic that I am unable to explain to anyone.
This year I will attempt another solo FAW in my Bonanza but westbound this time, also I want to attend the Third Earhtrounders meeting, that will take place in Perth (Australia) during the last week of August.
If I succeed I will become the only Wheelchair Aviator in the world with two FAW trips in his bag.


Rode will be proud of me.

 
 

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  © Antonio Faria e Mello - Wings of Stubbornness - 2003