Formula One Air Racing pilots are a rare breed. Justin Meaders is one who also happens to be the first and only paraplegic air racing pilot, and now, the first to be a Formula Gold Champion. A true inspiration indeed.
As told in his Challenged Athletes bio, as a kid he was always active, riding motorcycles at the young age of five and progressing to motorcycle racing. He also became a firefighter and EMT after college. He continued his extreme sports activities until a tragic motorcycle racing accident at the young age of 22 left him paralyzed.
As he came to the realization of his tragedy, he resolved to continue his active lifestyle by acquiring a hand cycle, which allowed him to continue his physical exercise and related activities. After a short six months of handcycle experience, he started racing in handcycle races. This fed his competitive spirit while allowing him to keep physically fit despite his paralysis. Participating in racing using a special racing chair along with swimming and competing in Triathlons became part of his ongoing activities.
However, as he contemplated his next adventure, he decided that it was time to take on his next challenge, which was becoming a licensed pilot. Only a handful of paraplegics have successfully earned their private pilot certificate. He now counted himself as one of those few. He continued to gain valuable flying experience and decided he wanted to get into racing again. The logical step was to start racing by becoming a Formula One Air Race pilot. He trained and trained some more, finally becoming a sanctioned Air Race pilot. In 2018, Justin won the Rookie of The Year award. He accomplished that feat after custom-designing and building his own race plane.
Fast forward to this year where he is now the Formula One Gold Champion. For all of us that have lofty goals, look no further than Justin Meaders for your inspiration. He is truly one-of-a-kind.