The Man Who Can't Walk, but Knows How to Fly

Dan was a New York & Connecticut home builder and flat-track motorcycle racer; then moved to Lake Tahoe, CA where he enjoyed the thrill of flying off mountain tops. He was getting his Private Pilot License when in 1981, he had a spinal injury landing a hang glider in bad weather that he shouldn't have even been flying in. Losing his ability to walk, he returned to college to pursue a career in mechanical engineering, landing him in Silicon Valley, CA.

Despite this new handicap, Dan returned to the thrill of flying within six months, and since then his tenacity and adventurous spirit has allowed him to accrue more than 2,900 hours of flight time in Hang Gliders and Sailplanes. Completing his Private and Commercial Pilot License as a wheelchair user, his motorless recreational flights are typically 3-6 hours long, thermal soaring as high as 18,000 feet over the western deserts and mountains.

After his first air show performance at Medford, OR in 1989, his appearances increased each year, and now he shares his thrill of flight with millions of people around the world during his annual 25+ city Airshow tour, driving 45,000+ miles each summer.

Performing principally across North America, his international venues have included Australia (8 times), Japan, Thailand, El Salvador, The United Arab Emirates, Canada, and Mexico.

The daytime Hang glider show has become a comical "screwup" act.
Dan's "unscheduled" tow-launch into another aerobatic performers "act" starts the funny banter on the PA system between Dan, the announcer and the other pilot . The police are also chasing his tow winch vehicle on the runway & the airplane is buzzing Dan, all while he's being winch towed to 1,500'!! The aerobatic airplane will closely buzz Dan several times trying to get him to cooperate with the announcer and officials, as he shoots special effects from the glider in defense.

Dan is eventually allowed to finish his show, and the police car arrives to his landing spot at show center to deliver his wheelchair which he had left behind. Dan will taxi off stage holding onto the wing of the airplane or door of the police vehicle (all in 8-10 minutes).

"OTTO" the Helicopter and Dan also have a dual act and upon landing, OTTO then "sling-loads" his wheelchair to him!!

Dan actually launches his glider from a moving winch trailer, driving down the runway at about 35mph with the flag, streamers and bright orange smoke trailing. He steadily tow-climbs to an altitude of 1,200 -1,800' while speaking live via a radio link to the audience,. A variable tension winch on the launch vehicle can spin out up to 3,000' of tow-line during his ascent.

Dan will perform a number of challenging "aerial water-ski turns" as the tow vehicle makes U-turns during his climb, for 3 laps in front of the audience.

 
 
 
 

Now, watch as he descends, wheels, circles and dives to a stirring musical accompaniment. During his graceful descent, smoke and streamers trail behind, punctuated with brilliant flashes and streaks of custom special effects....and he does this after dark too!

An aerobatic plane will harassing him as he climbs, maybe even attacking and cutting off yards of his long wingtip streamers. All of the humorous radio transmissions between Dan and his aggressor are carried live to the audience.

Chasing the pesky airplane away with his “3rd world warbird impression”, Dan releases from the tow-line at altitude. He is now flying free as the tow-line and its small drogue chute are rapidly rewound back onto the high-speed electric winch.

Dan continues the fun by talking and waving to the crowd while landing smooth and slow right near the showline.

It’s now when the crowd discovers that Dan can’t walk as a police car with lights and siren screaming, arrives, or OTTO the helicopter delivers the wheelchair on a long line into his hand.

Dan then quickly rolls to the crowdline signing programs for the kids and answering questions.

 
 
 
 
 
 

After dark is really spectacular and the audience wonders how he does not catch on fire!

This incredible night show has the entire fabric wing glowing and flashing, combined with brilliant "special effects", creating a dazzling display that even Disneyland would be proud of! Dan sets his motorized hang glider ablaze with amazing pyrotechnics, lights and music! (Dan's night-time aircraft is a motorized hang glider, enabling him to perform over locations not at the airport.)

The quiet glider, the stirring music, low airspeed and close performing area make this a very unique and unforgettable experience.

Dan is a Federally (BATF) and State licensed pyrotechnician trained by Hollywood effects pros. He installs, wires and sequences all of the special effects on the fabric wing himself. Can you blame him?

He is also a Commercial Glider pilot, enjoying sailplane aerobatics and giving glider rides to friends at Minden, Nevada when not on the Airshow tour. Dan owes Sailplaning to "Sky Sailing" in Warner Springs, CA, whose school has one of the few "hand control" equipped sailplanes in the US. http://www.skysailing.com

Some of his other adventurous passions include highspeed long distance desert riding and racing on ATV's, flat-water river kayaking and SCUBA diving on wrecks and in caves.

For More Information on Dan visit his personal website...
www.DanBuchananAirShows.com