By Kenny Salvini: For Complete Post, Click Here…
You’ve seen the numbers and heard the horror stories. Reports from the Department of Transportation show that domestic airlines are still damaging or losing an average of 30 wheelchairs and scooters every day.
Factor in other potential issues — multiple awkward transfers in and out of rickety aisle chairs, long hours on uncomfortable aircraft seats and inaccessible in-flight lavatories — and traveling by air with a power wheelchair can seem hardly worth the risk. For former professional wakeboarder-turned-filmmaker and C5-6 quad Ben Leclair, it’s just another day at the office. “Before my accident, I was flying around the world 30 times a year,” he says, “so the plane wasn’t a stressful place for me.”
The extreme athlete from Quebec had just returned from zigzagging Europe to film a video with a few of his buddies when a training accident at a private wakeboarding park left him paralyzed. He was still an inpatient at a Montreal rehab 10 months after his injury when the opportunity arose to fly to Florida to get an award for the video. Leclair didn’t flinch. “I think the medical staff at the rehab center was a bit hesitant to let me fly, but I wasn’t.”
I caught up with Leclair recently to swap stories and put together a few tips for power wheelchair users so we can maximize our ability to travel safely and independently while mitigating damage to the piece of equipment we rely on the most.