Leg Amputation


I am considering the purchase of an SR22 and have a left below the knee amputation. I have a prosthetic leg which works fine for walking, etc. Obviously, I have no feeling in the left foot, nor is there any ability to move the foot at the ankle. I can just press down on it. What, if any, modifications would be necessary to the left rudder pedal? Can the SR22 be flown safely by an amputee?

Thanks for any input.



i would say, Yes. You can learn to fly a Cirrus with a prosthetic lower leg. Do you have a pilot license? What do you presently fly?


I think it’s possible to fly the SR22 without any additional equipment … while it probably sounds a bit strange, it’s the RIGHT leg/foot you need more often, to counter torque effects on take-off, climb and go-around.

If I were you I’d try to find a ride and test it!

The issue will be the medical. You will have to demonstrate to the FAA that you can fly safely with the prosthesis. Assuming you can (and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to) you will be given a SODA (Statement of Demonstrated Ability). Once you have that the AME can issue renewals to your medical as long as your status is unchanged.

The rudder should present no problem, but the brakes require more toe pressure. If you can adequately employ the brakes all is well. If not there may be issues because the cirrus uses differential braking for taxiing and replacing the toe brakes with a hand brake (the usual fix for pilots who can’t use toe brakes) would require a separate brake for each side and that would be a clumsy solution.

Roger I cannot remember his name, but there was a famed WWII pilot who returned to duty with such a prosthesis. The challenge you will face is modulating the differential braking, and it should be pretty easy for you to try with an instructor and a taxiway. Because the rudder pedals are connected you can operate them well by keeping a little pressure on both and using your right ankle for the needed dexterity, so in flight you’ll probably find it pretty easy. Enjoy flying!

Pretty sure you mean Douglas Bader. I remember meeting him when he played at my dad’s golf club in Scotland in the early 70’s. I think he lost both legs and walked very stiff legged with his prosthetics, but he still flew and played a good game of golf.


I have an instructor who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident. He flies with an assist device. Ill out you in touch if you wish.

Roger, where are you located? I think the first step would be to try flying right seat with your existing prosthetic. Hopefully you are near a Cirrus pilot who could take you up for a flight.

Douglas Bader it was indeed. He lost his legs doing a barrel roll at 0 ft AGL in a biplane before the war . If I recall it was one above and one below the knee. In his book “Reach For The Sky” Paul Brickhill gave good account of his story.

He flew Hurricanes with my uncle and later Spitfires without modification. Although feted as a hero, there were others who flew with similar disabilities later in the war, including a US pilot in Mustangs and a Japanese.

I’d imagine a cirrus wouldn’t be too hard to operate compared to the 1,100hp ( and plus) of the Merlins.

I think my hazy recollection is of the Mustang pilot, who became a POW, and, if memory serves, was allowed to receive his prosthesis while imprisoned. I’ll admit I’m a bit ashamed that such heroic stories are fading for those of us who have heard them.

If we examine what those young pilots did in the war we are awestruck. My dad flew the P51; my mother’s first two husbands died in bombers. Today our nation’s longest running war is returning significant numbers of warriors with significant injuries and the need to make adaptations. Sobering stuff.

Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires. Wow and damn!

'Twas Douglas Bader who was taken prisoner - collided with an enemy aircraft over France and lost his (tin) legs in the exercise. I think the English know as much about him as the Americans Paul Revere ! Squadron leader Douglas Bader stand centre front. My uncle, Johnny Saville sits on the wing. All the others were killed. Bader has his prosthetics at the time this photo was taken.

Read the book !

I appreciate everyone’s comments. It sounds quite encouraging. I think I will do that demo ride since it appears I will only have minimal to no modifications.

A couple of weeks ago at the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering, Jessica Cox had a booth. I stopped, chatted about the Challenged Athletes Foundation (they gave her a grant), and bought her book. She insisted on autographing it for me so I snapped a photo as she did.

Not that it sounds like you need any motivation or inspiration Roger. Just that your inquiry reminded me of this recent encounter. The stuff we take for granted.


From Wikipedia:

Jessica Cox (born 1983 in Arizona) is the world’s first licensed armless pilot, as well as the first armless black-belt in the American Taekwondo Association (she now has two black belts in Taekwondo). She was born without arms due to a rare birth defect.[5] She earned her pilot’s license on October 10, 2008, after three years of training, and is qualified to fly a light-sport aircraft to altitudes of 10,000 feet; Jessica Cox flew in a single engine airplane for the first time via Wright Flight. She received her flight training through an Able Flight scholarship and soloed under the instruction of Parrish Traweek.

Cox has not used prosthetic arms since she turned 14. Using her feet as most people use their hands, she is able, among other things, to drive a car (she has an unrestricted license and drives a car without modifications), to type on a keyboard (25 words per minute), to pump her own gas, and to put in and remove her Contact lenses. She is also a certified SCUBA diver. Cox holds a Bachelor’s degree inpsychology from the University of Arizonaand works as a motivational speaker and has shared her message in 20 different countries.