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Dave aims high for solo around-Australia flight

Dave Jacka will attempt to be the first person in the world with quadriplegia to fly solo around Australia and is landing in Caboolture along the way.
Dave Jacka will attempt to be the first person in the world with quadriplegia to fly solo around Australia and is landing in Caboolture along the way. Contributed

IT IS a journey on a wing and a prayer but there will be little need to pray over this well-planned adventure.

On a Wing and a Chair founder Dave Jacka will attempt to be the first quadriplegic person in the world to fly solo around Australia.

The 44-year-old had a motorbike accident when he was 19, leaving him with limited movement. He has 6% mobility with no finger function and no movement from the armpits down.

"I am like a reptile; I am unable to regulate my body temperature, taking on the temperature of my environment."

Dave's whole life has been a big journey. "I couldn't even feed myself," he said.

"My greatest achievement was learning to get in and out of my chair, far more difficult than flying."

But regaining his independence revolutionised his attitude.

"I realised I was only limited to what I believed I could do. There is a solution to everything. You just have to find out how to do it."

And his list includes the Australian Wheelchair Rugby Squad at the 1996 Paralympic Games, project manager and capital risk manager with Melbourne Water and founding member of the Physically Challenged Shooters Club.

Dave modified his Jabiru J230 plane in pursuit of his circumnavigation plans.

His left hand controls the rudder, his right hand steers and he uses a tube to suck and blow to control the speed of the engine.

The biggest obstacle Dave said he faced was people's attitudes. "I had always dreamt of flying. When an instructor said I did not have the strength my dreams were shot out of the water. It made me more determined."

And that determination is what has allowed Dave to build his On a Wing and a Chair non-profit company.

He shows people they are only limited by what they think they can do.

"Raising public expectations of what people with disabilities can do and inspiring people to achieve," Dave said.

"Most people have a disability some just don't know they do."

The trip will take about four-and-a-half weeks, and will include crossing the four furthest points of the continent

He intends to stop at Caboolture Airfield on May 7.

You can follow his journey or donate to the organisation by visiting www.onawingandachair.org.au


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