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Paraplegic balloon pilot hasn’t let injury ground him

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KAYSVILLE – Michael Glen hasn’t let a Disability tether his dreams.
Like his father, Glen wanted to be a hot air balloon pilot. But after a car accident left him paralyzed with a spinal cord injury, the Federal Aviation Administration said no to a license because he was in a wheelchair.

“I wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Glen said. “When the FAA denied me, I decided to go out and prove I could.”

In April 2006, he was granted a license.

Glen told his story to students at Kaysville Elementary School on Thursday as a lead-in to the annual Antelope Island Balloon Stampede. The event takes place Friday and Saturday.

Glen, of Tucson, Ariz., urged students to set high goals. He says he wants students to realize they can overcome difficulties and realize their dreams.

“No matter what happens in your life, you can be anything you want,” he said.

The kids, who gasped and applauded when Glen and two other pilots inflated a rainbow-colored balloon, seemed impressed.
“I think it’s really cool that he can do this, being in a wheelchair,” sixth-grader Brooke Kraus said.

Glen also made a serious pitch for seat belt safety. He said his injury might have been prevented if he had been wearing a seat belt when his car rolled.

A motivational speaker who travels the Southwest, Glen said he enjoys sharing ballooning with students because of “the look on their faces and the way they get so excited and amazed by it.”
“Every time I do it, I turn into one of these kids,” he said.

The Associated Press
Salt Lake Tribune

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