Thursday, April 2, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Pilot’s dreams are ‘within his grasp’

After losing his hands in a crash that nearly took his life, former Marine, airline captain and sport aerobatic pilot Mike Penketh regained his FAA certification, performs in air shows and continues to teach children acceptance for people with disabilities. Courtesy photo

What would you do if you found yourself awakening from a deep slumber to discover that your hands were missing? How would you eat, or drink? How would you brush your teeth?

How would you change your clothes? How would you turn a door knob? How would you answer the phone? How would you sign a check, or a form?

The frustrations are endless, but survival is a human instinct, so you would have to figure out how to perform essential functions, or have someone do them for you. The innate instinct for survival can get you by, but the human spirit and a strong sense of determination can help you overcome obstacles at a much faster pace.

In “Within My Grasp: A Double Amputee’s True Story,” American Airlines Capt. Mike Penketh describes his accident — in which he lost both hands — and recovery. The book was written in collaboration with Marti Smiley Childs and Jeff March of Davis.

Penketh maintained a perfect safety record while flying passengers, but on his own time he got his adrenaline rushes by mastering aerobatics and flying in competitions. He raced his home-built Pitts S-1 biplane in the Reno Air Races. In his quest for speed, he miscalculated only once — and he paid dearly.

“I didn’t know where I was, and I didn’t know the guy who was leaning over me. I had been unconscious, and I was flat on my back, but as I began awakening in a groggy, dull fog, I sensed that I was in some kind of aircraft,” he writes in the opening chapter of his book.

“Over the noise, the pilot spoke. He was talking about a patient with severe limb damage and a possible head injury. The pilot was contacting the radio dispatch room at the University of Utah Hospital Trauma Services Unit in Salt Lake City.

“I did not comprehend that I was the patient. Everything revolved in slow motion around me. I felt cold, numb. And then I blacked out again.”

Trauma surgeons subsequently were forced to amputate Penketh’s hands following the horrific accident that nearly killed him. Although the course of his life was unalterably changed, he was determined against all odds to fly airplanes again.

Within a remarkably short time of losing his hands, Penketh became determined to resume flying airplanes. He was fitted for and tried numerous hook devices and prosthetic arms before his relentless pursuit led him to a technologically advanced solution with which he was able to perform some critical hand functions.

He culminated two years of preparations when he successfully demonstrated for doubting FAA examiners his ability to fly an aircraft using electronic prosthetic hands. The FAA reinstated his pilot’s license and, while he never flew Boeing 737s again, he went on to perform intricate maneuvers in aerobatics shows to prove to himself and the naysayers that he could do it.

An inspiration to schoolchildren, Penketh travels weekly throughout the school year to Northern California grade schools as part of the nonprofit Touch of Understanding program. His mission: to teach young children, teachers and parents to respect and have empathy for all individuals. The program encourages its participants to focus on their own strengths rather than on weaknesses and to realize that everyone faces adversity and frustrations that they may struggle to overcome.

“Within My Grasp: A Double Amputee’s True Story” is an autobiography about the challenges of coping with a disability, and learning how to focus on what you can do, rather than what you cannot do.

The book, published by EditPros LLC, is available in print and digital (e-book) through bookstores and online sellers. For more information, visit www.editpros.com.

This is the fourth biographical book that Childs and March have co-written. Their previously published books are “Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? — Volume 2″ (2012, EditPros LLC); “Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? — Volume 1″ (2011, EditPros LLC); and “Echoes of the Sixties” (1999 print edition, Billboard Books; 2012 e-book edition, EditPros LLC).

They own and operate EditPros LLC, a company they established in 1993 to perform writing, editing and publication services.

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Sentencing postponed in parental abduction case

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

     
    A joyous Chávez celebration

    By Fred Gladdis | From Page: A1

    Nano-brewery on tap for G Street

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Secondhand smog from Asia drifts to California

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Take a peek at region’s past at Tremont Mite Society’s social

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

    Health, wellness fair features info and fun

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Swap your wheels at Chávez fundraiser

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Food Bank gives out meals on Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Water-saving landscape tips offered

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Children of area pioneers offer a glimpse into region’s past

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Bunny Run benefits Yolo SPCA

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Art, science topics explored at LASER

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Per Capita Davis: Nuggets of news from the mailbox

    By John Mott-Smith | From Page: A5

    Go all in to benefit DMTC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Bak2Sac program kicks off Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Come hear literacy success stories

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Workshop helps locals prepare a living will

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Book sale benefits Friends of the Library

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    .

    Forum

    .

    Sports

    Gamboa, Kelly still knocking on MLB door

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie foursome ready for regional gymnastics meet

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devil bats struggle in Boras Classic loss

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Blue Devil boys get a much-needed win

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Harden has 51 as Rockets edge Kings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Youth roundup: Two Diamonds shine at state championships

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    College Corner: College open houses are worth attending

    By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: B4

     
    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B4

    Showcase and auction benefit speech and debate team

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B4 | Gallery

     
    Davis High students host plant sale

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B4

    Up a lazy river with me — and my wine glass

    By Susan Leonardi | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Arts

    Sign up now for summer rock star mini-musical

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

     
    Sundays at I-House features singer-guitarist

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Custom Neon to play E Street Plaza

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Classical Guitar Concert Series welcomes DuoSF

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Ink Monkey honored as Business of the Year

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Mildred Thomson Barker

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Joseph Andrew Hein

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Gordon Phillip Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Hector A. Contreras

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Thursday April 2, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8