Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

January 31, 2011 at 5:30am

Cadet who lost leg keeps piloting dream alive

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This from Air Force Times: SAN ANTONIO - Cadet Matt Pirrello would jump out of an airplane again in a heartbeat. And he hopes to get that chance someday.

Seven months after a parachute accident that severed his right leg and broke his left one, Pirrello is going forward with his life - learning to walk again here at the Center for the Intrepid and Brooke Army Medical Center, determined to get back to college and earn his Air Force commission.

"Becoming an officer is a goal I've had, and I don't see why this should stop me," said Pirrello, 20. "Plus, I'm pretty competitive. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed and doing what I have to do."

Last summer, after wrapping up his first year at Ohio University, Pirrello went to the Air Force Academy for the basic parachute training course.

On June 25, Pirrello had five jumps to make. The first one went well and Pirrello climbed back into the UV-18B Twin Otter with nine others for Jump No. 2.

As the plane flew over the drop zone, Pirrello stepped out and flew the parachute canopy within allowable limits until setting up for his final approach to the landing point, according to a report by Air Force investigators.

But Pirrello was so focused on where he was supposed to land that he forgot to monitor the windsocks, which would have shown crosswinds from the west. Not monitoring the windsocks, according to the report, led to "under-control of the canopy and failure to correct for winds to the west, which is a procedural error that was a major factor in the mishap."

To read the complete story, click here.

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