By Jack Mobley and Randal Coombs
Inspiring footage shows a quadriplegic ex-pilot experience the joys of paragliding for the first time.
Jim Ryan, 59, from Chilliwack, British Columbia, travelled to Vancouver, Canada, to go paragliding courtesy of his son, Dan Ryan and family friend and pilot, Greg Hemingway.
The incredible video shows Greg go airborne with Jim in his wheelchair and glide over the treetops, showing the beautiful Canadian countryside.
Jim takes in the views and soaring flight as he is unable to feel anything below his upper torso before the pair land and Jim is awe of the flight that Greg has just flew.
Jim said: “It was the first time I felt like I was flying since my accident. Truly a wonderful feeling.
“Strangely I don’t have real feeling, but the sensation of flying was very real.
“As you can tell from the joy I had, the feeling was incredible.”
Jim was a pilot for over 30 years, joining the Royal Canadian Air Force when he was 18.
After 10 years, Jim left and moved to commercial flying clocking up an unbelievable 22,000 hours flying, travelling the world in the process.
However, in March 2016 while Jim and his wife, Isabelle, were on vacation in Hawaii, he was struck by a wave in waist deep water that drove his head into the seabed, causing severe whiplash.
Within 24 hours his accident, Jim was alive and conscious in hospital in Maui, he was intubated, paralysed, and in significant pain
Jim’s injuries would mean he would become a C4 quadriplegic with the loss of control of all four limbs with no feeling from his armpit down.
Jim said: “I joined the Air Force when I was 18 years old because all I wanted to do since my earliest memories was be a pilot.
“I am a C4 complete injury and yes, I was hit by a wave, I also fight depression. The best help I get is spending time with people.
“I flew over 22,000 and hours, around the world, on phenomenal airplanes with fantastic people.
“The wave drove my head in the sand and caused severe whiplash, which caused my injury, the force of the wave was incredibly strong.
“I just see myself as a guy in a wheelchair trying to get through life, I don’t feel I have any choice except to move forward.
“The only thing that may make me different is the tremendous support I have had from family and friends.”