One local Estevan man has been receiving national recognition for his positive outlook on life, despite a debilitating condition.
Ken Johnson has had Muscular Dystrophy all his life, however, he hasn't let that stop him from regularly enjoying the thrills of flight. He owns his own airplane, and while he himself doesn't do the flying, he finds joy every time he leaves the ground, with experienced pilots Dwight Thompson or John Erickson in the left seat. Aviation has always been in his blood, as family members have been pilots, and he saw early exposure to flying through childhood experiences, going back through using parts salvaged from wartime aircraft.
Not too long ago, he was featured in a widely published aviation magazine, the Canadian Aviator, for his passion and enthusiasm for taking to the air.
"There was a COPA (Canadian Owners and Pilots Association) For Kids program at the airport, and they used my plane to show them what an airplane is, and they had two other planes to give them rides. I talked to the COPA guys, and that's kind of how the write up got put together," Johnson shared, and he's okay with the attention.
"I enjoy the recognition, but people are happy for you, and that goes a long ways. And lately in the nursing home here, the nurses are happy for you too."
His choice of aircraft was the capable Cessna 177B Cardinal. It lacks the commonplace wing struts, the manufacturer opting to go with internal wing bracing for that model, which is ideal for his entry and exit. His powered wheel chair raises up, and he carries another in the plane to use at destination, complete with a ramp to transition from co-pilot seat to chair. The starboard wheel pant is also removed for ease of access.
For Johnson, it's all about the free and easy feeling one gets when soaring in the sky, supported by nothing by the air.
"Flying is just a great thing that I like doing. You hear lots of pilots, once you're up flying, it's just like, 'I'm up here, and I'm not thinking about anything else.' It's kind of like you've lifted a load off yourself, the cares of the world drifted away."