Amputee Wants To Be Air Force Pilot

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An Ohio ROTC student hopes to become the first high-leg amputee to be accepted for flight training in the Air Force. Matt Pirrello lost his leg in an accident 18 months ago but he remains determined to achieve his goal of becoming a military pilot, his dream since he was old enough to run around the house making airplane noises. Pirrello has overcome a lot of challenges since his accident and has rejoined his ROTC unit, taking part in all the physically demanding activities that entails. The ultra-conservative nature of the pilot selection process presents a fresh set of obstacles, however.

Although some injured pilots have returned to active duty as amputees, Pirrello, if selected, will be the first amputee to go through training. Also, other amputee pilots have lost their legs below the knee and are able to operate the rudder and brakes with little impairment. Pirrello has a Plan B if the Air Force doesn't accept him for pilot training. He says he'd like to fly drones or work in intelligence. Those who know him are not counting him out as pilot material, though. "Matt is unstoppable," Lt. Col. Alejandro Cantu, commander of the Air Force ROTC detachment at Ohio University, told the Columbus Dispatch. "He has amazing character, drive and attitude. "He's everything we're looking for in the Air Force to serve this great country of ours."