"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Loss of a leg as a teen hasn’t kept her down from the dream of being up in the air

By on October 29, 2018 in Articles with 3 Comments

Parasailing in Mazatlán: “I had both a sandy take-off and landing. When I was safely on the ground the guys looked relieved, and we all had a good laugh,” said Pat.

By Pat Turner

My fascination with up-in-the-air activities started in grade school.

Every year I saved my allowance to spend on rides at the carnival when it came to town during Apple Blossom. The excitement of spinning, twisting and being up-side-down sends shivers. As soon as the rides were assembled and ready, I was there, even if it was a school night.

Over the years I searched for more adventure.

Parasailing behind a motorboat on Lake Chelan was new when I graduated from high school. As I approached the watchful eyes of the people in charge, I knew I needed to convince them, “I really can do this.”

You see, the end of December of my senior year I was in a car accident and lost my right leg above the knee. The challenge was doing a land start, which took a couple of steps before liftoff.

I had no doubt I would be up in the air in no time, but I can understand their apprehension. With a cute guy on each side holding my arms for balance, two hops and I was in the air.

A couple of years ago I parasailed in Mazatlán, Mexico. The reason I did it a second time, the line is much longer. Oh, and their were two more cute guys by my side.

The LongEZE aircraft: “It is barely longer than I am tall. I did pause a minute when I walked around the corner and first saw it. Then it was just a matter getting in, locking the front wheel in place manually, and we were off.”

Next came my birthday surprise from Joe, my husband. Arrangements were made to go up with a pilot out of the Pangborn Memorial Airport in East Wenatchee. Over the years I watched gliders from afar. Now it was my turn to fly with the birds.

It became spooky quiet after the motored plane flew to a safe elevation and released the tow cable. We were set free to ride the wind currents.

Quickly the pilot realized I really did enjoy the experience and wasn’t going to get sick. Only then did we do some dives and twists, similar to carnival rides.

When a neighbor moved in across the street from our home, I had the opportunity to ride in a small, sport plane for two. He built the LongEZE aircraft from a kit in the ’70s.

What a thrill to fly over the Enchantments, a popular hiking area outside of Leavenworth. Since I don’t hike I would never have seen the beauty of these mountains, and lakes. For a bonus, I snapped the perfect picture of Mount Rainier against a blue sky.

Zip-lining caught my eye searching for activities while visiting Mazatlán, Mexico. What a rush skimming over the tops of the trees, suspended by a thin cable.

At the second landing I noticed the rigging was held together with electrician’s and duct tape. No OSHA rules here.

Sky-diving in Chelan: “When we dove out of the plane, there was no time to wonder if the chute was going to open. Everything happened so fast, and then we were floating in silence.”

I was the first amputee not wearing a prosthesis to zip with this company. Again, I posed new challenges for the guys. The young men kept me safe to zip again. One even gave me a piggy back ride up the steep hill when I started getting over heated.

Each up-in-the-air activity added a different excitement.

The summer of 2017 I topped them all. During a contest at WORX gym, I won a tandem sky dive with Dive Chelan. Sitting on the edge to exit the plane, 11,000 feet above the ground, truly took my breath away.

Did I think about backing out, never! We inched towards the edge, one more scooch and we were in a 100-mile an hour free fall. My only regret, everything happened so fast. Would I do it again, in a heartbeat.

Another floating adventure: My husband Joe and I rode in a hot air balloon last October of 2017. It was so quiet until the burners turned on to lift us higher. Floating over the fields and surveying the incredible landscape gave a unique perspective of the many colors and textures of the land.

One more up-in-the-air item on my bucket list is to jump off the cliff at Chelan Butte and tandem hang glide. This poses different challenges and I haven’t been given the go ahead to schedule. I can wait as safety comes first.

If you never stretch possibilities you’re missing out on what can be the thrill of your life.

Yes, this is my challenge to you, make it happen.

Pat Turner is a retired school teacher. She first made her mark in the valley at Mission Ridge as a three-track skier. Now she looks to the sky, and under the ocean for her classroom.

Hot air balloon ride: “The balloons are so big yet so quiet when the burners are off.”

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There Are 3 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Vicki says:

    Love your adventures Pat! Keep writing and sharing your life.

  2. Marietta says:

    Proud of you my friend! Keep it up!

  3. Gena says:

    Hot air balloon next on my bucket list.

    Pat you are such an encouragement and Iove your adventuresome

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