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Paragliding helping disabled vets
Group gathering in Boro for shared passion, fellowship
United States Air Force veteran Matthew Holmes of Kings Mountain, N.C., top center, is trailed by fellow military veterans as they make a pass over Prosser Field during a Veterans Day week Resurgence PPG (powered paragliding) event at Helen's Hobbies.
United States Air Force veteran Matthew Holmes of Kings Mountain, N.C., top center, is trailed by fellow military veterans as they make a pass over Prosser Field during a Veterans Day week Resurgence PPG (powered paragliding) event at Helen's Hobbies.

Todd Scandrett spent 18 years in the Army and suddenly he was out due to a physical disability.

Like an athlete whose career is suddenly over, Scandrett found himself looking for a place where he could get a daily adrenalin rush that comes with, for example, being in a combat zone or the day-to-day training activities designed to prepare a soldier for the ultimate mission.

Unlike many of his fellow disabled veterans who suddenly were on the outside looking in, Scandrett found his outlet: power or motorized paragliding.

To mark Veterans Day in 2021, Scandrett and about a dozen other disabled veterans have come to Bulloch County to share their passion for paragliding and the camaraderie of fellow military veterans. The group began arriving last Monday and is paragliding twice a day – weather permitting – out of Helen's Hobbies/Prosser’s RC Field through the weekend. Prosser’s Field is located just north of Highway 24 and just east of Clito Road, about six miles from downtown Statesboro.  

“I was having to make the transition and I was having personal issues,” said Scandrett, who suffered a spinal injury. “I had to reinvent myself.”

Resurgence PPG president and founder Todd Scandrett gathers in his gear after an evening flight with fellow military veterans at Helen's Hobbies/ Prosser Field.

That was when Scandrett discovered power paragliding and it made a remarkable difference in his life. It gave him the physical and mental outlets he needed.

Scandrett figured if it worked for him it would also work for other veterans who were dealing with either a physical or mental disability that was impacting their ability to return to civilian life where the challenges and thrills were not the same.

Thus Resurgence PPG, a 501c(3) non-profit charity devoted to provide therapy and rehabilitation to disabled veterans, was born.

Since its formation two years ago Resurgence has paid for 25 disabled veterans to be trained by organizations across the country to become certified power para-gliding pilots. The cost is $7,000 and all costs – for training, travel, lodging and meals – are paid by Resurgence with the money coming from private and corporate donations.

Close to a dozen of those trained pilots have been in Statesboro this week flying daily from Prosser Field, which explains why residents may have seen people in the air zooming over the city.

“We had guys coming in from several areas of the country,” said Scandrett, who is a University of North Georgia graduate and resides in Mt Holly, N.C.  “We had one guy drive in from Wisconsin and another from Kansas. They probably came the furthest.

“Power paragliding gives you an unmatched, unparalleled sense of flying,” Scandrett said. “In order to do it you have to be a fully rated pilot.”

Coming to Statesboro

This is the second year for the group to get together and Statesboro was chosen because it was a more central location for those planning to attend. Plus, Prosser and city and county officials were welcoming and the location provided excellent facilities for both flying and camping. 

One of those pilots who is attending is Chris Harvey, who arrived on Wednesday from his home In Hiwassee, Ga.

Harvey said the opportunity to become a power paragliding pilot has been a life-saver.

Harvey was in the Army for 12 years and was a CH-47 Chinook pilot. His military service came to an end when he suffered a fractured spine, which left him paralyzed for a time, he said.

At the time of his separation, Harvey was stationed at Hunter Army Air Field in Savannah.

After flying Chinooks, the largest and most powerful helicopter in the world capable of hauling tremendous payloads at speeds up to 200 miles per hour, sitting on a sofa at home didn’t cut it for Harvey.

Harvey lives near Bell Mountain, which is more than 4,000 feet in elevation. It’s the highest peak in Georgia and it was there he saw paragliders in action.

U.S. military veterans Ty Haden and Todd Scandrett, top, soar over Bulloch County.

“I saw guys jumping off the mountain and I got interested,” Harvey said. “I took a flight. It was fun.

“But, I’m a helicopter guy and I would like to have a way to fly other than jumping off a mountain,” Harvey said. “I found out about power paragliding and Todd’s program. I applied and was accepted.”

Training disabled pilots

Harvey said he was the 13th pilot trained and pilots were trained as money became available.

“A lot of people are donating money,” Harvey said. “We’ve got 25 pilots trained at $7,000 each so you can do the math. I think they’re getting ready to train two more.

“Todd is our hero. All of us are disabled vets in one stage or another,” Harvey said. “Coming to Statesboro gives us a chance to get together, have some fun, and share stories.

“Watching a power paraglider take off is really interesting, especially if nine or 10 are doing it at the same time. You lay your wings out facing the wind, strap the motor on your back, throttle up and take off. It’s like taking off in an airplane.”

According to statistics provided by the Veterans Administration, about 40 percent of all post 9/11 veterans have some type of service-connected disability and the suicide rate for veterans in 2019 – the last year numbers were available – is 17 per day.

Programs such the one provided by Resurgence may have a life-saving impact for veterans.

For information on how to make a donation to Resurgence, you can go to or mail a check direct to:  Resurgence PPG, 116 Missouri Ln., Mt. Holly, N.C., 28120.

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