The first time I saw Dan Buchanan perform was at the Santa Rosa Wings Over Wine Country air show in 2007. They had a cool act where two stunt planes were performing when a hang glider appeared and went through the middle. It was really neat. At the end when the hang glider landed, a helicopter with a wheel chair hanging on a rope, came and lowered the wheel chair to the hang glider pilot. It was Dan’s chair. His legs are paralyzed. The crowd roared and clapped when he went by.
This year at Watsonville I was lucky enough to see Dan perform and even interview him.
“I actually got into flying through scuba diving! I was 24 and teaching scuba diving at work up at Lake Tahoe. One of the students was a hang gliding instructor. So we traded lessons because I’d always wanted to hang glide.”
“The first time I ever flew was when I was 18 and went skydiving! I didn’t even land in a plane my on first flight!”
“I was taking powered airplane lessons also at the same time but the hang gliding was so much more fun. The simplicity of it is part of the beauty. You move your body to go where you want. I like motorless flight. It’s a challenge to stay airborne hours at a time. You really have to learn micrometeorology and read the weather to decide which way to go.”
“I hurt myself when I was flying in weather conditions that I shouldn’t have been flying in. My instructor even told me not to fly that day. I went flying up in Carson City Nevada off a little mountain and the wind was terrible. I needed help to put the hang glider together because of the wind. So, I got into the air and I was so scared and barely in control. I flew for an hour and a half because I was too scared to land. It was so nasty. Then it got dark and the sun had gone down. I had to land. I did it. I did a good landing on top of the mountain next to my car but the glider hit me so hard on top of my helmet that it gave me a compression fracture. Other than that, there was no damage to the glider, no blood, or broken bones. It was just my back that couldn’t take the jolt. So I’m laying on the ground under the glider in the dark and the wind it trying to take the glider and hurt me more. The two little kids who’d helped me put together the glider earlier were worried about me so they came and I told them to tell their mom to call an ambulance for me. Then I went to sleep.”
“It took me 4-5 months before I got back into the air. It wasn’t the flying that hurt me. It was my dumb decision to go flying in weather I shouldn’t be it. I went back because I love flying.”
Dan has become a very popular performer in air shows all across America and all over the world including Australia (8 times), Thailand, El Salvador, The United Arab Emirates, Canada, and Mexico.
Me and Dan - he's so cool!
His handicap hasn’t slowed him down at all. He’s logged over 2,800 hours of time in hang gliders and sail planes, scuba dives on wrecks and caves, and does long distance ATV riding and racing in the deserts.
It was great seeing him fly and he’s a hero to me.
Dan Buchanan's Flying Colors
519 cypress point
Dayton, NV 89403
Office: 775 246 4157
Dan has some great videos on his website - check it out!