Flying with one hand

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My left hand is missing and I typically wear a (cosmetic) prosthesis
when outside. However, I have no problem driving a regular car, also
with manual transmission (I keep the wheel steady with the prosthesis,
while I shift gears). Is there a legal restrictions for pilot training
for the basic license in my situation, and, if not, how feasible is to
learn to fly a plane for me?

-- Dmitri Dolgov, December 21, 2007


Quite a few airplanes have been adapted for pilots who don't have the use of both arms and both legs. You can certainly start training tomorrow. Before you solo, though, you need to get a 3rd Class Medical and you may require a waiver from the FAA office in Oklahoma City (can take a few weeks). has some encouraging words.

An airplane properly trimmed should land itself with minimal control inputs, so I think as a practical matter you should be able to fly the airplane safely. Given that you can fly safely, I don't think it will be a heroic effort to convince the local doctor and the FAA bureaucrats. Let us know how it goes!

-- Philip Greenspun, January 2, 2008

Dallas pathologist Beck Weathers got his private certificate and presumably his instrument rating after losing his right hand and all the fingers on his left hand to frostbite during an ill-fated climbing expedition on Mount Everest in 1996. Obviously he was able to get his medical despite this. Read the story from the January 2007 issue of Flying Magazine here:

-- James Shaddox, March 21, 2008

Dear James, Thank you for posting the link to Flying Magazine's online article written by Lane Wallace. For me at least, he beautifully sums up why we GA lovers take the risks we take.

-- Mark Dalton, March 21, 2008