Michael Glen of Arizona is the world’s first paraplegic hot air balloon pilot. Paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident in 1996, the aptly nicknamed “Rolling Pilot" didn't set out to gain that title.
"The only thing I do differently than another pilot is that I fly sitting down. Once we’re all up in the sky, we’re all equal in the balloons."
It's not surprising that the flying experience is no different from flying in a traditional hot air balloon. Michael's only adaptation is that he sits on an open two-seat bench instead of inside a basket attached below the balloon.
Michael has been ballooning since he was a child, and dreamed of getting his pilot's license. Although initially denied from getting a license due to his disability, he proved his capability to pilot a balloon by flying double the hours required for a private license and commercial license.
Recognized as an excellent pilot, Michael's expertise led to his participation in the 2017 35th annual Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, during which he applied his skills to piloting one of the festival's special-shaped balloons. Michael shares, “There is no better feeling that going to fly. I always say it’s an awesome way to experience the morning, to go out and enjoy a sunrise and get out and get this experience.”
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