The Pilot Base

One Leg Up On Life

March 22, 2021 Pilotbase.com feat. Ben Hall & Dave Rogers Season 1 Episode 10
The Pilot Base
One Leg Up On Life
Show Notes Transcript

Christy Wise is an above knee amputee, flying in the US Air Force. If you need a bit of a positivity boost to start your week , this episode is for you! 
We cover a lot of ground including the US air force (obviously), being a search and rescue pilot, skiing, losing a leg and setting up a charity just to start.

If you want to read more about the One Leg Up On Life Foundation, you can find their website here: http://www.oneleguponlife.org/

Ben Hall:

Hello, and welcome to the pilot bass podcast. I'm Ben and I've been a pilot for over a decade.

Dave Rogers:

And I'm Dave categorically not the pilot.

Ben Hall:

Every Monday we'll be chatting to both pilots and non pilots with amazing aviation stories from all around the world. You can find all episodes of the pilot based podcast for free wherever you get your podcasts. If you like what you're hearing, subscribe to our channel and leave us a review.

Dave Rogers:

In this episode, we head back across the Atlantic Ocean to meet major Christy wise now imagine how elite you'd have to be to become a US military pilots. Now imagine that, that as an amputated leg, Christy's life and Christy's journey has been incredible both in and out of the cockpit, and the way she tells her story. Well, you're about to find out. This is major Christy wise. Major Christy wise, welcome to the pilot base. Thank you for joining us. And well, thank you for taking some time off your busy skiing schedule to fit in.

Christy Wise:

You know, it's a tough life here as the Air Force pilots tough life so I'm doing pretty good. Thanks for having me.

Dave Rogers:

It's an absolute pleasure, Ben, before we get into it with Christie, how are you?

Ben Hall:

I'm doing all right. I worked out today. It's been 11 months since I last got on an aeroplane. So I need to get airborne again. Pretty soon, I reckon. Whoa. 11 months, 11 months to the day.

Dave Rogers:

What's the longest you've spent out of the cockpit Christy?

Christy Wise:

After I lost my leg, I was out for 16 months. I spent a lot of time in the simulator every week. So it didn't exactly feel like I was out of the plane. So that was good.

Dave Rogers:

11 months, man, how does that make you feel?

Ben Hall:

It was fine for the first bit because I actually had like a normal sleeping schedule and stuff. kind of came to the point now where I want to be back in the sky. cutting some holes in the clouds.

Christy Wise:

Then is that just is that because of COVID? Because of all the furloughs?

Ben Hall:

Yeah, so I just got furloughed from British Airways? Yes. And even the guys that are still there, they're hardly flying at all.

Christy Wise:

Gotcha.

Ben Hall:

Not a great place to be at the moment. the aviation industry.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, that's definitely true.

Dave Rogers:

quite brutal, actually. Ah, I feel like we started on a down and now I know you look great. And that foliage behind you for the people who don't watch on YouTube and and just listen to the audio podcast. It looks great. You really cultivating it. Thanks. It's growing into the ceiling a little bit lower, which is a problem. Just put it on the floor. Anyway, Christie, I always love to know this because we have great guests from all over the world. Where are you right now?

Christy Wise:

I'm in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Dave Rogers:

What a beautiful part of the world. Is that where you were born and raised? Or is that just where the best skin is right now?

Christy Wise:

Um, so I was born and raised in Reno, Nevada, but that is, Colorado is where the Air Force has me. So being the military pilot, I've moved all around the nation. And currently I'm in Colorado.

Dave Rogers:

My American geography isn't the best but Nevada and Colorado. They're not too far from each other.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, they're both on the west coast. It's not really driving distance. I think it's like 16 hours or something. But you know, same side of the country.

Dave Rogers:

Okay.

Ben Hall:

I just thought it'll 16 hour drive.

Christy Wise:

No problem.

Ben Hall:

Three laps to the UK. And I

Dave Rogers:

was gonna say is there anywhere? What would like Exeter to Newcastle be but that that wouldn't be 16 hours?

Ben Hall:

No, no, it'd be like six or seven.

Dave Rogers:

Maybe? Yeah. That is a long way. Right. Then where do we start with you, Christie. It has been a very, very colourful life. This is the pilot based podcast and you are a pilot. So let's start with your, with your journey into the cockpit. Are you from an aviation family?

Christy Wise:

I am not. I am actually not from an aviation family or a military family. Oh, wow. So I went to the Air Force Academy out of high school because I was recruited for that ski team. So I was always a ski racer, and I just wanted to continue in college. And that was one of the places that I would be able to join their team.

Ben Hall:

So how does that work? The Air Force pay for you to go to college, because you're really good at skiing.

Christy Wise:

So the airport so the academies are kind of unique in that. So anyone that goes to an academy, whether it's Air Force, Navy, Marine army, you are going to graduate as an officer and go into the military service, but kind of like a normal college, they also have sports teams. So I went because of the sports team, but I also knew that you know, it came with some tabs that I was going to have a military service requirement upon graduation.

Dave Rogers:

This is going in a very different direction. So I thought it was going to already and I love it with regards to the ski racing them because of course some of the greatest ski racers of all time, Lindsey Vonn, Bodie, Miller, you name them from the States did a part of you think, right? I can do this military thing, but also maybe I could be an Olympic skier Did you? Did you ever think that skiing could take you all the way? Or was it always something you used to get the next step whether it was the job in the military or the college degree.

Christy Wise:

So originally, when I was younger, and even in early high school, I was hoping to go to the next step. And then it was a little bit of a reality check about junior senior year of high school where I realised Oh, I am not good enough to be an Olympic skier. I'm good enough to be a college skier at a small college. That's the level skier I am. So it was a really cool, niche place for me the Air Force Academy where I was still able to compete in the collegiate level, but knew that it otherwise I didn't really have a future and skied by so got to enjoy it and then also become a pilot. So

Dave Rogers:

now I can't, I can't speak on behalf of American military skiing, Ben. But in my younger years, when I used to try and get any excuse to get to the mountain, I used to go and work on British military ski trips as like a resort rap. And as an announcer for the ski racing. They have a really good time mate. tickets. I mean, yeah, yes, they race. And yes, there are freestyle competitions. And there are some really good races. But there are some not so good races, who are really good at all the other stuff in ski resorts. So being in Colorado, are you getting any time on the slopes at the moment? I mean, I know the answer to this is yes. So I just want to hear about it. We can't go in Europe at the moment. And it's very limited. So if you could just do your best to make me jettison sort of me in the mountains right now. That'd be fantastic.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, so Well, I'm sure we're gonna get into this later. But now, when I ski raced in college at Everest, khadem II in two legs, so I was a normal able bodied racer. But now since I've been back in Colorado, I'm actually on the adaptive ski racing team right now. So I was training this weekend. And just seeing if I can make a run at the Paralympics. So we'll see. I don't know it's not going to great right now. So ask me about that later.

Dave Rogers:

Well, if you need Paralympic advice, then you need to speak to Mr. Ben Hall as a 2012 Paralympian himself. So we will get into that and with the adaptive skiing and are you on the you want to skis are you in one of the six skis?

Christy Wise:

I'm on two skis. I actually have a full ski leg. And yeah, so I'm on to ski. So that's what I'm trying. It's a lot of angles and physics. That's what I'm kind of tinkering with right now.

Ben Hall:

Are you enjoying it? The ski attached to the lower part of your leg? And then you've got like a special knee. How does that work?

Christy Wise:

Yeah. So I mean, I'll have to get it in a minute. And I'll show it to you guys.

Dave Rogers:

I love aviation podcasts.

Christy Wise:

like yours, you're very surprised. It's a fox bike shocks. So it's like some shocks suspended in a metal frame. That's what the knee is. And then the foot is a similar bumper system that clips directly into the ski. So I don't wear a ski boot at all.

Dave Rogers:

Oh, wow.

Ben Hall:

It's a custom. Obviously, it's custom fit to you. But is it custom made for you?

Christy Wise:

No, it's not. And it's this company named bio adapt. And it's a guy who's a he actually won the gold in Paralympic snowboarding, Mike Schultz. Yeah, so he built a leg and all the snowboarders are on it. Everyone in the Paralympic snowboarding world, but nobody's on it yet on the scheme side. So I'm trying to introduce it to skiers

Ben Hall:

Trailblazer.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, I'm not doing so good yet.

Unknown:

That's my goal.

Dave Rogers:

Amazing. I will certainly keep an eye out for that. What? Oh, what a great thing. Oh, I love it. I love it. I tell you what, while we're on sports, let's talk Invictus Games. Because I think our paths may have crossed without us without us realising and how could we were you at Orlando? 2016 or 2017? Okay. Um, did you race in the in in the road race, the lap race around the ESPN Wide World of Sports?

Christy Wise:

I'm on in the car and the bike

Dave Rogers:

on the bike.

Christy Wise:

I did. Yes. Oh,

Dave Rogers:

I caught that race. Oh, that's how I yeah, they it's one of the one of the best things I've ever had the privilege of doing. So when the Invictus Games started in in 2014, they asked me to come to London to do the indoor sports. So the sitting volleyball, the wheelchair basketball, and the wheelchair rugby. And then they flew a load of us out as kind of heritage, I suppose the people who did the first games out to Florida for the second game, so I did the indoor sports again. And the cycling too. So I will have Yeah, I'll have called you in a in a road race, which is really quite strange, isn't it?

Christy Wise:

Yeah. I didn't bother the cycling events both times Orlando and Toronto.

Dave Rogers:

Amazing. They pretty special events, actually Invictus Games, aren't they? Yeah, I

Christy Wise:

think for me, I have, I think a lot of my recovery. And the success that I've had since I lost my leg was in part because of adaptive sports. So that's just been really amazing. The interesting thing for me is that when I lost my leg, there was actually five other pilots in the Air Force that had already gotten back to flying after an amputation. So they reached out to me and so we had this little we called it that amputee pilot mafia. And we joke that you had to lose the arm or leg to enter, but that we are pretty tight knit. And so it was cool, because I always had the support from the pilots. And so in my mind, I guess I always knew that I was going to get back to flying. And that was possible, because it had already been done. But, um, I think the hardest part for me mentally was just how long it took, you know, for my leg to heal, and the prosthetic, getting your prosthesis and getting it fitted and running. And, you know, getting the strength to push the pedals. You know, that was all a very long process. And I just, um, in the meantime, I got to participate in sports along the way. And I think that was the biggest thing that helped me mentally because I was just so bored. And, you know, the flying thing was just taking so long that I kind of needed something else to be excited about and passionate about. And you know, I ski race my whole life. So I was already kind of an athlete. And so I felt like at first I lost that identity a little bit, you know, like, Oh, am I gonna be an athlete still. And so Invictus Games, and warrior I first was in weird games, and then I got to do it addictive twice. But it was just so amazing. And then also just being around other athletes. You know, I went to my first Warrior Games only nine weeks after I lost my leg. Oh, wow. Well, still on my crutches. And now I'm around this whole community of amazing people on there. Like you gotta try this leg. You got to do this to sleep at night. And I just all of a sudden was a part of this amazing community that I you know,

Ben Hall:

what? You compete after nine weeks?

Dave Rogers:

I did. What sports? What did you do?

Christy Wise:

So it actually was so crazy. This story is just so crazy, guys. I didn't make any of this stuff up. So I was in the Rehab Centre in San Antonio Brookstone Medical Centre, and I couldn't get my prosthetic leg yet because I was waiting for my incision to heal. So I was crouching everywhere. And then all I was doing every day was working out all day every day. So I was doing. And so that's when I met one of the Air Force coaches, she was an PT as well for Warrior Games. And she came into the gym to get one of our into the rehab, 71 of her prosthetic legs worked on and she saw me working out and so she said, Hey, do you know anything about warrior sports? And I said no. And she she basically recruited me on the spot. She's like, I think this is awesome, like such great shape. And I was pitching everywhere. So my arms were so strong. And so she's like, let's work competing in two months. Do you want to go? Like Yeah, I do. Also, like I told you guys, I was so bored. So then the really cool thing is that first games, Warrior Games, I did everything seated. So I did like the hand cycle. I did wheelchair racing, seeded shotput, and discus. So everything was just with my upper body, which was already strong from crunching everywhere. And then I said to myself, like it was really awesome to compete that way that first year so early on and get basically get connected to the community so early. And then I said okay, if I ever do this, again, I'm not doing anything seated. I'm doing everything standing up or running. So then the following year when I competed in Orlando and Invictus. It was amazing because I did all the events in track cycling and I did everything up, right. Sounds really exciting.

Dave Rogers:

I mean, community is, is a word that you've mentioned a number of times there and, and honestly, then I've been lucky to go to a lot of places and see a lot of sports over the years, but I don't think I've ever experienced community like Invictus Games. I've not been to a Warrior Games and I don't think I get the opportunity to a good friend of mine has he went a couple of years ago was in Indiana a couple years ago. Maybe Yeah,

Christy Wise:

it was. And it's it's so neat because you know, Invictus is just the international version of Warrior Games. That's the same. It's the same thing. And you're right. It's just such an amazing community. I remember this one story, I'm walking. I'm at Invictus Games in Orlando, and I'm walking back to my room. And I competed in way too many events. And so I was really sore. My leg was hurting and basically like limping back to my room. And then I look next to me and there's this British soldier he has a same amputation as me same legs, same prosthetic leg, and he's also limping. Like how this moment and we like start talking and stuff and you know, he was a special forces True God is like, injured in Iraq or, and you know, it's just like, our stories are so different. But like, in this moment, we're doing the same thing, like limping back to our room after all these sporting events. So it was just so cool.

Dave Rogers:

And it's just the people that get behind it as well. I remember, obviously, Prince Harry was out there as one of the founders of it. But then Michelle Obama spoke at the opening ceremony, Joe Biden, when he was vice president Cain, Dr. Jill Biden, Michael J. Fox was in the audience. One night we had NBA players and NFL players come in. JOHN CENA was the celebrity coach of the wheelchair rugby team. Yeah, I think it's I think it's just an opportunity for, for ordinary people to try and give something back to extraordinary people. Really, it's, yeah,

Ben Hall:

that's a brilliant combination, isn't it? Because in the military, you've got all that camaraderie anyway. And then you've got all the sort of team aspects of the sport and just comes together really, really well. In the in

Dave Rogers:

the Team USA, has anybody gone on to do something? I mean, obviously, you're making it your objective now to try and get to a winter Olympics. But in the UK, off the back of the first Invictus Games, there's a guy called JJ charmers. And now he's a presenter on the BBC, which is one of our big broadcast channels over here. There's a guy called Dave Henson who won the bronze medal in the 200 metres for double amputees at the at the World Championships. Are there any cases of American athletes who, who've gone on to do that?

Christy Wise:

Yeah, for sure. And it's just kind of such an amazing thing. I think because Invictus then can be a stepping stone. So I think a lot of amputees or you know, anyone who's injured gets into it in their initial like, right after their injury, and then they see Oh, I can participate in sports again. And I can do this and then yeah, usually, after Invictus, there's a couple that will really pursue it on the national and the Olympic level. And we have quite a few, at least on the team. I can't think of any medals but

Ben Hall:

it's amazing cuz I bet when you first lost your leg, the first thought was, like my worlds just come tumbling down. And now it's just actually opened up all these other opportunities that you would never have otherwise,

Christy Wise:

for sure.

Dave Rogers:

Before we move on, because this is just turning into a sports podcast podcast, which I'm here for, but a couple of your old teammates. were big in the Invictus Games, a Charlie Walker ban natural runner, those boys.

Ben Hall:

Yeah, so I used to play sitting volleyball for Great Britain. So in sitting volleyball, back in the day, it was one of the few sports where you can have mentally disabled people. So in the squad, you could have two minimally disabled people. So effectively, it was you had an injury, which causes you not to be able to play for the Olympic team. Right? So for me, I had knee reconstruction, like my knee was just in such bad shape. It's like, moving around the place that I got qualified for to be a mentally disabled person on the volleyball team. And about half the team will probably ex military. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And they had some crazy stories. Well, this one guy, actually. So Charlie Walker probably hates me naming him on the podcast, but he was a bomb disposal expert, and he lost both of his legs through meningitis. Crazy,

Christy Wise:

that's crazy.

Dave Rogers:

The way you've worked at the beginning of that then makes it sound like had you not blown your knee out. You'd have played for the Great British Olympic volleyball team. Is that something you're going on record is saying or Dave, you probably didn't mention that. That would be better for me.

Ben Hall:

No, I wouldn't have been a Olympic quality but I could have been, you know if I was a better volleyball player.

Dave Rogers:

Yes. Yeah. Okay, so I'm not saying We're not going to go back to sports. But let's bring it back to aviation for the time being. So, you, you took the military route through college? Was that always with the view of becoming a pilot? How did the How did the interest in in becoming a pilot first strike? You

Christy Wise:

know, so I mean, I did you know even when I was a high school senior realising I wasn't good enough to be a Olympic skier, I did my research, you know, okay, I think this Air Force Academy has a ski team, I think I would enjoy Colorado. But I also, you know, knew I didn't because some athletes actually kind of get tricked a little bit into the academies, they don't really realise what they're signing on for come to play football, and then they show up and they have to march and they're like, what did I sign up for? So I was not one of those people, I knew what I was signing up for. I thought it was a very unique experience that I thought I would enjoy. And I wasn't for sure if I wanted to fly, but I knew that was probably a good option. And then once I was at the Academy, they do a pretty good job during the summers, they'll let you tour other bases, and you'll get to shadow different career fields. So for me, because I'm, you know, I really like being around people. And so I thought, oh, maybe I'll want to do you know, public affairs or personnel or something. But just whenever I was shadowing, I was like, No, I want to be a pilot, like just seeing the pilots and their jobs. And of all the things I shadowed, it became pretty clear to me that I think this is what I want to do. And it's awesome, because I think aviation is very similar. It's kind of a team aspect, like, especially, you know, I knew even you know, I thought about fighters for a little bit, but I just loved the crew aspect. Like I loved being around a crew, getting a mission done, and everything changes every day. You know, the weather is different every day, the planes are always different. And so to me, it was almost kind of like an extension of sports, like a job that just has a lot of the similar aspects that I had always really enjoyed.

Dave Rogers:

I'm interested Yeah, I've never thought of that. But you're absolutely right. That's the first time I've thought of it as a team thing, and I suppose as the pilot, then you're just the captain of the team that day.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, exactly. leading your crew, and especially, especially in some of the military environments, like deployed and you got somebody who's having an off day, but you still have to get the mission done. Or you have to keep the crew working together as smoothly as possible. And, yeah,

Dave Rogers:

something that Ben and I often talk about, not necessarily in aviation, but with regards to being a pilot is, there's not an awful lot of representation. I don't know the statistics, but I know there are an awful lot more male pilots than female pilots. Is that something that that sort of you encountered? Were there any obstacles as a result of that?

Christy Wise:

No, I feel pretty lucky. I mean, the statistics are still there. So I know at the Academy, there was only one in four women at the Academy. So 20%. And then, as pilots, it's one in five. But it wasn't, I never felt any different. Like I didn't ever feel like I had a different standard or any discrimination or anything. And to me, I always tell people, I feel like I was a little easier for me because I was always a tomboy and into sports growing up, so I kind of was always around the guys anyways. So whenever everyone would ask me Oh, how is it? I'm like, I don't know, I don't really notice it.

Ben Hall:

One in five seems like quite a good ratio, relatively, because I think in the world, it's something like one in 20

Christy Wise:

Yeah, I think so. I think it's, um, one in five. And that was when I was going to pilot training. So I don't know if it's fluctuated since then.

Dave Rogers:

Um, what was the first plane you flew in the military?

Christy Wise:

I flew that T six. So a little bit, a little small, aerobatic plane. And then we fly that for about six months. And then I flew the T one. It's kind of a double engine, Beechcraft aircraft. And that's what they fly. Everyone flies those in pilot training. And then I was assigned the C 130, which I spent most of my career flying c 130.

Ben Hall:

They assigned you to see 130, can you kind of choose your preferences?

Christy Wise:

Yeah, it's kind of you can kind of choose them. So it's a big equation. When you go through pilot training. It's based on your academic test scores, your flight, your checkride scores, then your daily flights, it all goes into this big equation of how you are rated like what rank you graduate your class in, and then based on what you want, so you can put down all your preferences and then also what's up vailable that time that you graduate, so you couldn't be the best in your class and say I want to fly the F 22. And then that week, they don't have any f 20 twos and you won't get it. So it is somewhat your preference. A little bit of luck. And yeah, just what's available.

Ben Hall:

And your baby is, is the Hercules. Yep.

Dave Rogers:

Nice. Do you do you enjoy flying it? I mean, I know, that might sound like a ridiculous question. But for some people, it's just a job. And for some people, it's more than that. So do you enjoy flying the sea?

Christy Wise:

Yes. So I love flying the ceiling. 30. I actually so autopilot training, I put the C 17. First, just because the C 17 had better locations better basis. And I put this you on 32nd because I liked the flying the mission better. So it's funny because even when I put those I knew I was putting c 17. First for locations, c 31/32 for the flying. And now I just I'm so relieved that I got sort of my second choice because the flying is just so fun. And you can make any any, you know, locations change anyways.

Dave Rogers:

So what does a day or a week or a month look like as a 730 pilot for you.

Christy Wise:

So the other great thing that I didn't even know when I put in my list, but I actually was assigned rescue c 130s. So specifically in the search and rescue mission, which is really, really cool for C 130 pilots. So I refill helicopters in the air. And then we work a lot with the PJ's that jump out in the back. And we also work with Cb 22 anything we can refuel anything. So it's

Ben Hall:

just it's where refuel helicopters. I didn't even know anything.

Christy Wise:

Yep. Only the 30s can do it. Because of because we're props you know, so we can generate our own lifts so we can fly really, really slow. So we we refuel the helicopters only five knots above stall speed.

Ben Hall:

Really so like what kind of speed

Christy Wise:

105 usually so slower than we land we land at like 130 knots, but we refuel at 105

Ben Hall:

of hex uncomfortable,

Christy Wise:

but we can also fly like two, we usually fly around like 220 knots. So it's like such a cool job mission because the reason that we have C 130s is even in say Afghanistan, Iraq, you know, somebody gets shot down or they're injured and it's really far away. The helicopters don't have the range to get far away. So that's what they have to see on 30. So we'll go we're kind of the redheaded stepchildren of rescue and that we do all the work but we don't get any credit. Because whenever you see rescues, you see the helicopter and the person being pulled up with the PJs but what they know and to says is like there was hours of work by the sea 1/31 like we go out we find the person that's downed, we radio back we tell helicopters to come we refuel them so they can go that far. Then they do the rescue then we refill them back.

Ben Hall:

So all the heavy lifting and the other people get really boring. Yeah. PJ's because in England that is pyjamas?

Christy Wise:

Oh, yeah. Sorry. pararescue jumpers. Got it. Sorry. I should. Yeah, they're the guys that jump out of the back or go on helicopter and pull the guys up from the ground.

Dave Rogers:

I am so glad we got into this. That is so cool. So I just picture like the F 22 is like the sports car with the big exhaust and the spoiler it doesn't need. And you guys are like the sort of old Cadillac convertible that you can just sort of sit back. And doesn't matter what you do. It's loads cooler than it looks. an exam. Yeah.

Ben Hall:

Have you been operational in it?

Christy Wise:

Yes. So I have done I have been lucky enough to do both a couple of rescues in Afghanistan, one in Italy, in the deployed environment. And then I've done a couple of rescues back home station. So last fall. One of the coolest missions missions I've ever done was a Mexican fishing boat. It was 1200 miles off the coast of the Pacific off of California. And they had a crane collapse on board the fishing boat and it hit one guy in the head and another guy in the leg. And all they had on board was basically a first aid kit. So they radioed like a distress call. The Mexican military didn't have any capability to get it was too far away. It was basically two and a half days from shore. And they were worried with the fishermen with a head injury that he wouldn't make it two and a half days. And so then they also ask the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard. Head art was already another missions at the time and they didn't think they could get out that far. Either. So then our unit and I was in Arizona at the time, we got approval to go on the mission. So we flew the day flight flew like six hours in the middle of the ocean, air drops the pair rescue jumpers into the water they got on the boat and like took care of the two patients, medically because they're all like trained medics, and then I was on the flight that night. So it was supposed to be just a normal Tuesday night training flight. And so then we got retest, because they didn't they needed more medicine, and more blood for the patient with the head injury. And so then we basically the Night Flight, my flight we flew also five hours, middle of the ocean at night honour, every G's dropped down, airdrop, this tiny little Pelican case of blood to raise the pair SP jumpers, and then they got it. And they they basically. So that was what my role in that mission was. And they took care of him for the two days until they got to land. Then the Mexican military took over. And then another c 130. Flight not mine, but for my unit went landed in Mexico picked everybody up and came back home.

Dave Rogers:

What a gig. Oh My Goodness me.

Ben Hall:

And you're an expert accidents at sea as well on you. So.

Unknown:

Yeah.

Christy Wise:

Yeah. It's kind of ironic. Yeah. When you think

Dave Rogers:

so. That is that is absolutely astonishing. Well, you've you've brought it up. You brought it up, Ben. So I suppose we should talk about it. And you you do have a missing leg? Yep. Oh, part part there have? I'm sure you've told the story. So so many times, but you mind sort of telling. Okay, cool. The floor is yours.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, so kind of like we were talking about earlier with your buddy who has Explosive Ordnance that lost his legs. Another way I had actually just gotten back from my deployment in Afghanistan. So I'd gotten back from a deployment there and I was on vacation with friends. I was in Destin, Florida. And I was paddleboarding in this little protected Cove and I a boat swerved into that area, and hit me. So I saw them coming. I was standing on my paddleboard and I and I had just gotten dark. So I had a large flashlight with me. And so I waved it at them and was like, okay, they're gonna see me, they're gonna go around me. And then I realised like, oh, they're not going around me, it took me maybe a second to realise that. So I jumped off my paddleboard to like, get away. And then I got hit, I was wearing like a sweatshirt over my swimsuit, because it was kind of chilly. And I remember the sensation of my sweater getting wet. Like, you know, when you jump in the water and your clothes get wet. And then I got hit in my shoulder with the front of the boat. And then I pushed off the bottom on the boat and I swam down. So it's really cool. Because to me, that was the first miracle. Or you know, God, I think are my guardian angel. Because there's no way I had time to think that. And had I not swim down after I got hit in the shoulder, my entire body was gonna go through the propeller at the end of the boat. Because I pushed off and swim down. The propeller just struck my right leg. So down, no, I know, this is why I'm telling you. God had a plan for me because there's no way I know, whoever It's not like I never thought of that scenario before. Like, I don't know, I swim down. So I swam down, which is really cool. I don't know how I did that. And it made a weird sound. It didn't hurt or anything. And so I surface and I was with my friend at the time, Tim, and he was standing right next to me on his board. He jumped off the other direction. So he's like, swinging up to the surface. He's like, are you okay? Are you okay? I'm like, Yeah, I'm fine. Like that tone of voice. And then he swam over to me and that's when we saw like, I saw part of the bone sticking out on my leg. I realise Oh, maybe, maybe I'm not behind this. And so he was wearing a long sleeve t shirt. We took it off, he took it off and we wrapped it around my leg and sort of a tourniquet and the boat that hit me never stopped. So it kept going. And then the next like miracle is I don't even remember thinking this because we were in this like protected little Cove where there was never any boat traffic unless you lived there which is my best friend's it was actually at their house. There's only like 100 yards from their dock. So, you know, it was like basically their backyard. I had honestly paddleboard there like 100 times before. The only boats that were ever in the cove was if you lived there, which we knew everyone that lived there anyways. So then I'm looking around for my board, I don't see it because I jumped off of it. And about a quarter mile, like half mile away, there was a bridge, where there was all this boat traffic under the bridge. And so I was like, oh, there's a fishing boat over there, I should signal to that fishing boat. So I got up. I like looked down. And my flashlight was still on my right hand. So I was like the next miracle, like I had my flashlight in my hand wave at them. But now I've like, jumped away, got hit, like swam down. And then now I need my flashlight again, it's still in my hand. So I see most of them, they came over right away. And they had actually seen it happen. So they saw it happen. And so they were already coming to me anyways. But since I had the flashlight and could signal them, they were you know, they knew exactly where I was. So they came they got me in the back of the boat. Awesome couple Robert M shell. And they and I laid on the back that a cooler so I was laying on the cooler and my. So we apply a tourniquet to my leg with the T shirt. But it still wasn't tight enough. So I was still losing blood really rapidly. And so we use their fishing net, we use the handle to like crank down the T shirt to tie it to like get the blood bleeding to stop. So we estimate this. Yeah, we asked me this whole thing happened in about three minutes from the time that I like was standing on the board until being in the back of their fishing boat. So all very, very fast. But I lost about 65 to 70% of my blood in that three minutes. So I just think it's so I mean I speak of it's positively because I like you know, another 30 seconds or like any one of the things that happened, had they happened in a different way. I wouldn't be here talking to you guys today.

Ben Hall:

So he you just drove off. Yeah, I mean, there's no real way you could not notice that right?

Christy Wise:

I mean, I'll never know. So I'll never know.

Dave Rogers:

I like I don't think it would do you any good to think about it either, would it?

Christy Wise:

Well, so I was actually very interesting. My son Tim, who was with me and my best friends were there. There was a police investigation. So I went on for about six months. So the police were actually pretty amazing. They went to all the marinas that very night they inspected propellers for the next couple months, they went to hotels and got footage from anything that was pointing towards the water. So it's like a very intense investigation and my friends, my best friends because it was basically their house. So they kind of had some PTSD over the event because they you know, I lost my leg in their backyard. And then Tim was with me, of course did and so they were always you know, getting updates on the case, but they would always ask me like, do you want any updates? And I I just said no, because I was like, to me it was like, I'm like my legs not growing back either way. So to me I was already like, focused on the next thing like flying you know, Invictus like sports all stuff because I was like, Well, I don't know what's gonna happen with investigation. But either way, I gotta learn how to live with one leg. So I'm just gonna focus on that

Dave Rogers:

same thing Invictus thing again, isn't it the master of your fate, the captain of your soul? And you're speaking credibly positively about it now and you've had a smile on your face at times when you've told us that story. Was that? Has that always been the case?

Christy Wise:

I think it's a combination of factors. So I have always been like, in general, sort of optimistic my callsign and my first deployment, the one in Afghanistan was Optimus Prime. Like my crew was like, would make fun of me because they were like, Chrissy, you're gonna say like, Oh, I'm so excited. And that could be just that there's green beans at the chow hall today or that we did this cool mission. I'm like, Oh, you're right. And excited about everything. So that is kind of true. Like, I was always, I've always been that way. And then I think to just in the hospital in the first couple days, all the doctors and nurses. Everyone was so surprised that I lived through that, that it was always like everyone was just like, wow, we're so happy. You're alive. We're so happy you're alive. We can't believe you live through that. You know, being in Florida. They see boating fatalities all the time. So I was maybe the first one that had really whipped through something like that. So it was kind of cool. Because their attitude about that just kind of, you know, transferred on to me and like my family of like, wow, yeah, I'm not necessarily right now sad that I lost, like, I'm just happy to be alive. So Originally, it was very, very positive. I think it was more like for me the middle of my recovery, where I just was really struggling, and it was taking longer than I wanted. And that's where I got depressed. Whereas in the beginning, I was just so optimistic and motivated. So it's, it's kind of interesting that goes easier at the beginning and harder in the middle. For me,

Dave Rogers:

at any point, did you think about the possibility of medical discharge whether or not you'd be allowed to remain in the military? How did that come? Like? It's just so confusing, because some people seem to get discharged for something where you'd think they'd be able to stay and other people like yourself. Yeah,

Christy Wise:

so that's a very interesting dynamic, I think at every turn, they tried to discharge charge me. So they, that's kind of the default position. And they would even say, like, even a couple days, after my accident, they're like, oh, but the military is going to take care of you don't worry when you get discharged, and I'm like, I don't know, I'm not going to get discharged. Luckily, for me, I had those five other amputee pilots that I told you guys about. And so they kind of encouraged me all along, like, hey, people are gonna assume you're getting out, but we're gonna help you figure out, like, basically, they helped me stack my medical board. So I had to undergo two boards, one just to stay in the airforce and one as an officer in general, and then the second one to get returned to flying. So they basically helped me stack it so that they can't say no, like, if you can pass a normal physical fitness test, if you can do all the runner forces, if you can get in and out of the plane. So I had to practice like getting out of the plane. If you can do all that, then they can't say no, really. So they helps me stay positive. But everyone else I talked to was just assuming that I was getting out and even like little stuff like even in the Rehab Centre at Brookside, medical centre, people would find out, I was a pilot, and they would say, oh, what did you fly? And I would always correct them. And I'd say, Well, I do fly c 130s.

Dave Rogers:

Amazing. It seems like every stage of your recovery, I hope you don't mind me calling it your recovery. There's always been something to sort of hold on to always something to aim for, whether it's, you know, the adaptive sports, or whether it's people who are trying to help you and inspire you, or whether it's getting back in the plane or the next mission. It just seems like you've always had had that thing or those people who've just wanted to help you and wanted you to succeed.

Christy Wise:

Yes, absolutely. And I think sometimes even people will sort of give me a lot of credit, like I did, and I'm like, I didn't do it. I couldn't have done any of this. It's such a team effort. Like had I not gotten involved in Warrior Games and Invictus Games right away, I wouldn't have known what I was capable of doing, you know, or if I hadn't had those other five pilot mentors, I definitely wouldn't have gotten back as fast as I did. Just because they helped me. They taught me the steps. They when I was struggling with the brakes, I called like, I literally had this one sim simulator in the C 130. And I kept crashing it every time I could not get the force on the pedals. I was kind of, yeah, I was kind of freaking out. And I was like, I don't know, maybe I can't do this. And the instructors are kind of like watching me and I'm crushing it every time. And so I'm like, Can I take I go to the bathroom? I need a bathroom break. So I go on the bathroom, I call every one of the amputee pilots. Like I'm crashing at what do I do? And so like, you know, to have them answered, and they said, Hey, try this with your seat position and try this technique. And so to me, I'm like, I don't even know what Yeah, like I saw so much of where I am is because of the support I had around me as I was going through my recovery. I think

Ben Hall:

a lot of it was driven by your personality and your drive though, because it'd be quite easy just to say I've lost my leg or take a medical discharge, get some insurance money and can sit on my ass for the next 10 years. And I think it comes from inside I mean it's it's you that reaches out to all of these people and you know decides where you want to be and what your goals are.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, I definitely would agree with that. I think for me though, too, is it was more it's like kind of crazy because I knew that getting back to flying would be so hard, like really a lot of really tough. But I also it was like scarier to me to think Have Well, if I don't fly, what am I gonna do then? Like, I love flying. And I almost didn't even realise I think how much I loved it until I lost my leg. Because then I was like, you know, once it was sort of taken away from me, I was like, This is what I love to do, like, I don't want to do anything else. So as hard as it is, and how long is it however long it takes, I'm going to get back to it, because it's more depressing to me to think of the ultimate alternative.

Ben Hall:

Like technical things just about how you fly. So obviously, you've got to press the rudder, do you like fix your knee?

Christy Wise:

Great question. So I it's kind of ironic, because I think I literally fly the hardest plane possible for a right leg amputee because of the props and the C 130. And p factor, we always have some pressure on the right pedal. So I'm like, man, if I lost my left leg, left leg way easier, because every flight we kept constant right rudder, and that's actually anything with the prop just because of the way the prop spins and P factor. So I had to build up the strength in my residual leg. So I'm an amputee just above the knee. So I still do have muscles in my hamstring. And so I hold my foot on the pedal and I use those muscles, I pulled down with my hamstring to straighten my prosthetic leg to hold the pedal. And I originally did lock my knee because I wasn't strong enough. So when I first started doing the stimulator, I would lock my knee. But that was never going to be allowed to come back to duty. Because if you think about it, if I lock my right leg, and then we need full rudder force on the left, now my leg is going to bind the control forces will literally hinder us from safely operating the opposite pedal if we need to.

Ben Hall:

So you'll mitre with your actual leg going up and down. And that's causing the knee to bend, right?

Christy Wise:

Yes, so I am, I'll try to show you in this day as well. So it's on the pedal and I pulled down with my hamstring, which strings that and then I hold place.

Ben Hall:

Okay, next question, how do you break

Christy Wise:

a breaking, I move I take my hand off the mic. If I'm on the throttles or the yoke, I take my hand off that really quickly and I move my heels because like right now it's always resting on the runner and then I move it to the top, and then it's on the brake.

Unknown:

Okay.

Christy Wise:

So I brief like every time I do a takeoff or landing, that's part of my brief to the other pilots, like, you'll see me move my hand momentarily. To my foot. I'm just moving it on the pedal. And then I put it back together,

Ben Hall:

hopefully breaking down the runway, because I get that out at the best of times.

Christy Wise:

What do you say,

Ben Hall:

you get the old wobbly breaking down the runway,

Christy Wise:

sometimes. But I don't, I just had to practice it. So So much so that it's smooth and quickly. And so now it's almost like second nature, but it's taken, it's taken a while to get there.

Dave Rogers:

That's just another kind of I don't use the word miracle, but it was in my head, I can't think of an alternative. Because even if the amputation was another two inches up, you probably wouldn't have had enough strength in the hamstring to do what you need to do to make it work.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, so we it's definitely true, we have one of our MVP pilots in the Air Force, he is higher than me. So he's a lot higher, but he's not flying c 130s. So it is possible, even a little bit higher, but more difficult. So and the other thing too is like what I tell people is they didn't give me any breaks. So like are you know, I had to be able to do the most amount of pedal pressure. So in our our books, it actually says up to 150 pounds of force. And so I had to do a leg lift on the leg machine in the gym with 150 pounds in front of the flight Doc's. The good thing is I didn't have to do it a full 90 degrees because like I'm not strong enough for that. I just had to do it as far as I would need to on the pedal. So if you think about that, it's like about bend your your foot on the pedal is bent about you know, 1520 degrees and then straight to hold the pedal. So I had to prove to them that with 150 pounds, I can go this range of bending that I would need on the pedal and I can hold it.

Ben Hall:

So I feel so inadequate at the moment because that is the reason I currently don't have a medical because I've just had an ACL revision reconstruction like it does. And it's exactly that I can't I can't push hard enough at the moment.

Christy Wise:

Well, it took me like eight months to build up that strength, so now he knows a process that goes.

Dave Rogers:

Yep. Ben. Ben six foot four and 220 pounds.

Christy Wise:

Yeah. Okay.

Ben Hall:

vastly better.

Dave Rogers:

How long do you think until you'll be able to better you want to you want to schedule for it?

Ben Hall:

Probably two months ish are good. I mean, I'm in no great hurry. Am I? the aviation industry isn't exactly buzzing with pilot jobs at the moment.

Dave Rogers:

No, it's not. It's not. Well, fingers. Fingers crossed for you. Can you tell us about some of those guys that you've said the the amputee pilots who? Yeah, who helped you back into the cockpit? Would they mind you maybe naming them and tonica great story? I

Christy Wise:

think so. So the first one was john Alvarez. He was in 1997. He has a really cool story. He was flying a helicopter in Ecuador and crashed. And actually, some of the crew members died in that crash. And he was pulled out of the water like in this by a local and him in his engineer and things slabs were saved. And then actually you see 130 came in and landed there and got him out. But he ended up losing his leg below the knee. And he got back to flying. He actually it's kind of interesting for him. He was in the Navy, and he was on an Air Force assignment that time. So then he because he was with the Air Force unit when he crashed. He's like, I want to get back to flying Air Force helicopters. And so he's like a very, we always tease him because he never actually went underwent a medical board. Because he basically just like when the Navy came asking for him to like med board him He's like, oh, but I'm already deployed with Air Force unit. And then I think the Air Force also just assumed the Navy did one on him. So he just kind of just snuck through. But of course he did. Like he had to do everything everyone else did in helicopter.

Ben Hall:

The Navy, the Air Force, don't listen to this podcast.

Dave Rogers:

Yeah. Now that's fine.

Christy Wise:

You will not he went on to have a great career. And he was a commander. He did a bunch of missions and then retired. So he was the first in 1997. Then we had another above the knee in 2005. His was a mission say this out loud, Ben, but his was actually a knee surgery that went bad. And then the knee? Sorry, it's the truth.

Dave Rogers:

Yeah, yeah. To correct.

Christy Wise:

Yeah. So he was the first to fly above the knee. And his is pretty amazing. Because he didn't have to go through the medical board and nobody supported him. So he tells a story of like he made he learned and taught himself to run in his garage on a treadmill, he built a like harness because he would fall so much attached to the ceiling. And so he like taught himself how to run. Wow. And you know, like got back to flying when no one had really, you know, john had done it. But John's was very, like, not public knowledge until later. And so, you know, Andrew didn't necessarily know about him. And so he got back to doing it, which was awesome. And then since him, there's been another guy who had a motorcycle accident, he flies you 28 and then only one year prior to me, and was a guy that I actually knew from the Air Force Academy. So this was really cool part of my story. So Ryan, was in pilot training in Texas, which is where I went to pilot training. He was a year older, and he was also in a boating accident. And he lost his leg, his leg below the knee. And he was able to finish pilot training eventually, and I was flying c 17. So even for me when I was in the back of the ambulance headed to the hospital, and I still had my Lego still attached, but I couldn't feel it. So I knew that was bad. Like, yeah, I can't feel it. That's not good. And so in my mind, I thought, Okay, this is gonna take me off the schedule for a while. I think the schedulers are gonna be upset. But worst case, Ryan did it, I can do it. So I was already kind of thinking about him even in the ambulance, which was awesome,

Dave Rogers:

amazing, amazing people. And are you still a member of the amputee pilot mafia?

Christy Wise:

Yeah, I am. Yeah. And I talked to them, we kind of keep in touch, you know, all the time. And when I had my first deployment after losing my leg, I asked them and they're like, you know, give, you know, you have to consider so many other things. So they're like, make sure you pack this tool and this extra thing. And so they have, it's been awesome. And we've even had a couple other pilots not just a bunch of random like a crew chief Air Force crew chief, so I helped mentor him. And then a couple other non military pilots, I read Shout out to me. And how do I do the brakes? I tell them okay, here's what you do.

Dave Rogers:

How did you I mean, obviously, I can understand how you got the call sign optimist prime. But was there a specific incident was there? Was there one mission where it was bestowed upon? You

Christy Wise:

know that one there wasn't really anything specific, but I actually have a new call sign and I'm going to show you guys it's really cool. Yeah, so my Optimus Prime was like my unofficial one on my first deployment. But now my callsign is clockwise. My last name being wise but it's because I can spin my leg around upside down. So a twist around like a clock. And so it freaks everybody out. My callsign now, which everyone knows me by is

Dave Rogers:

amazing. Sorry, I'll be back with you in a minute.

Christy Wise:

Guys, it's good because you know, this new generation everyone with digital clocks, they don't understand or laugh it's hard because you know,

Dave Rogers:

yeah, they don't get it is old folk, we know what we're talking about.

Christy Wise:

We know, a clock looks like

Dave Rogers:

this might sound like a weird thing to say. But prosthetic legs is so cool. They're like, super cool. How many have you got? Have you got like a leg for all occasions?

Christy Wise:

Yeah, so the funny thing is, I mean, I think this was maybe a military thing, but I love humour. Like, you got to make fun of this stuff. It just makes it better. And so I have currently seven legs. But they all have names. So I'm the one I just showed you. This is Xena. Warrior Princess.

Ben Hall:

two legs.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, so she's x ottobock x three. And so yeah, I named her Xena Warrior Princess. I was like she's gonna help me get back to fine What should it so that's mine like as well. Yeah, it's gonna fly like yeah, like daily. Most activities. Kind of the default leg unless I'm doing something specific. And then I have running leg is forest from the movie run. Forrest Gump run Forrest run. I've got Catalina for biking. Ariel the mermaid is my ski leg right now is Shredder. I have a fancy looking one named Barbie. So yeah, I just make

Ben Hall:

what is that for fancy occasions?

Christy Wise:

Yeah, she's like, looks like a real leg. Okay, but she is mostly sits in the closet because it's really heavy and not very fun to walk in. So I don't usually wear Barbie. So just makes it kind of fun. You know, I get a new leg or even you know, as my family or my boyfriend. It's like, hey, has anyone seen Ariel? like where's someone want to carry your for me. So that makes it more fun.

Ben Hall:

My wife's got a prosthetic arm. So she's got a story where she she was on a volleyball camp. So she's American as well. So she played for the USA national team. Awesome. She's on a volleyball camp. And she left one of her arms in the hotel. Early got found by the cleaners, like after she had left Friday. And then she got a phone call when she was back in England saying I think you might have left it on.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, this is like so funny. You know, just like yeah, there's some funny things happen. He's got a laugh about it.

Dave Rogers:

Yeah. That's something that I that I didn't realise. I remember speaking to an ohmmeter years Ben, Rob Richardson and he was telling me one of his favourite things is watching people who aren't amputees, getting awkward with people who are amputees. He just used to find it hilariously funny. And I'll be the first to admit that was that was mean in the beginning and I was at a sitting volleyball event you weren't there then it must have been before you were selected. And it was kind of busy. There were loads of courts going on. But there is a there is a job or a voluntary position in adaptive sports where people who do have prosthetics arms, legs, whatever, they'll very often before the match, they'll get put into a cart, and they'll get taken to a safe base until the end of the game. Well, I had a clipboard in one hand and a microphone in the other hand, and I was announcing the team's onto the court buzzing around probably going a little bit too, too fast, full of kinetic energy. And I wasn't looking where I was going and I have fallen over one of these carts full of prosthetic limbs and There were legs everywhere on the floor drowning in arms and legs mortified thinking are no 70 is gonna kill me and I've looked at and they were just a load of sitting volleyball players just laughing like I've never seen people in the in their lives and yet they didn't let me live it down and they gave me so much stick for it but yeah, just just a really funny moment again people people making the best of the situation is great.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, I think so.

Dave Rogers:

But I think you'd probably be angry with me if I tripped over Barbie right

Christy Wise:

now she just sits in the closet anyways.

Ben Hall:

I've already got an impression Bobby's not a favourite.

Dave Rogers:

Yeah, Bobby.

Christy Wise:

I did. So I deployed to Iraq in 2019. And Barbie is she's two purposes. She looks really nice. Looks just like a real leg. And then it's also my backup flying leg. So it's just because the Xena is actually computerised, the one I normally fly with and if the computer goes out or the hydraulics go out, then it doesn't really work very well. So Barbie is just a mechanical need that will work no matter what. So she's my backup line. Like

Ben Hall:

Dave is amazed by computerised knees only.

Dave Rogers:

Cool. You should get one bend your knees are terrible. Maybe you should get a computer.

Ben Hall:

I know I've thought about this. Just chop it out. Get a bit of metal in there.

Dave Rogers:

Get a good one. Always wear shorts then.

Ben Hall:

Slowly

Dave Rogers:

anyway. So what happens obviously you're you're really happy with what you do now you love flying you love the sea when 30 How much longer do you think you'll be in the military? And do you think you'll continue as a pilot? When the military journeys over?

Christy Wise:

Yes, yes to both questions about explain a little bit. So I'm actually in a really cool job right now. So I'm not currently flying the C 130. I'm back at the Air Force Academy. So I'm commanding a squadron of cadets. So kind of really cool. Like I wasn't gonna at once and now I'm back, leaving some cadets and then I get to fly. The Cirrus so small single engine plane down at the Air Force Academy airfield teaching cadets.

Ben Hall:

VSR 22. Um,

Christy Wise:

I think so you're asking me,

Ben Hall:

like your problem.

Christy Wise:

Yeah. So you want your prop? Yeah. And it's got a lot of civilian stos and stuff for sure. And has the parachute if you mess it up, like for the whole plane? Have you heard about this? Yeah, it's cool. It's crazy. Yes. Insane.

Dave Rogers:

No way. So what if the engines go? You just pull the ripcord? Yeah, get

Christy Wise:

in the plane goes down. You have to like jump out or anything?

Dave Rogers:

I'm not sure I trust it.

Christy Wise:

I know. I don't think any of us trusted either. But you know, hopefully I don't have the occasion to test it out.

Dave Rogers:

Yeah, yeah. That is one of the things you literally never want to know if it works or not. Does it work? Hopefully I never find out. Please. Thank you. So you're all right. So you're there. You're there. Right now you are the apprentice turn master as it were.

Christy Wise:

Yes. So I'm doing this for three years, which I actually really sort of advocated, you know, argued for them to give me this job because I do love to see 130 in the rescue mission, but just going through all that losing my leg was just really tough. Like just any even the flying the daily flying even after I was requalified it was still very, you know, rudder intensive, like hard as amputee. So after a couple years of that, I was like, I still love flying. I still love it. But I need a little bit of a break. I need an assignment that's a little bit easier here. And I can just kind of, you know, I want it to be back with cadets sort of like, you know, get to lead the next generation kind of get excited about the military. Again, not that I wasn't it's just my journey was so tough that I was like, I want to do something to kind of reignite that passion and fly something a little bit easier for three years. That's what I'm currently doing. And then I'll go back to C 130s. After this. And then I do plan on doing 20 basically, by getting this assignment with the cadets. I signed on for four more years. And I'm already I've already been in 12. So I'll be very close to 20 years by then. So I think I'll just stick it out. But I would love to fly commercial airlines when I'm done.

Ben Hall:

And commercial airlines are not very rudder intensive. I assure you

Christy Wise:

I know. I know. It's so funny because so many times in my C 130 journey people were like, Well, you could just switch planes you know, it'd be a lot easier one of my friends. She I had just like failed a ride because I was struggling with the with the max effort landings. And she's like, you know, I just keep my feet on the floorboard the whole time. Like, don't tell

Dave Rogers:

So, in my, in my very limited time speaking to pilots and great people like yourself, there is always the Boeing versus Airbus discussion. And apparently flying an Airbus is an absolute doddle. Somebody told me that I could do with no training. Isn't that right then?

Ben Hall:

Well, you're a very special mandate.

Dave Rogers:

So that that's the I was going to ask you, have you got any sort of aviation ambitions, but flying commercial is something that you'd love to do?

Christy Wise:

Yeah, so I do, you know, I've really enjoyed the military. And I, I know, they've supported me a lot. And it's been a very interesting career. The tough thing about being a military pilot, though, is that, you know, flying is only a part of your journey. So, so much of my job is being an officer too. And so that's why to me flying commercial afterwards is exciting. Like, I just want to fly.

Ben Hall:

Because you've got secondary duties, haven't you? Basically, you've got to work a full Well, yeah. Plus some where it's like, it gets the airport an hour and a half before your flight. You know, you do a bit of paperwork, fly a plane and then you go for beers and golf.

Christy Wise:

I know. I can't wait for that because like as a military pilots, like the days you get to fly, you're like, yes, thank God, I'm flying today. Because all the other days you're busy doing all this other work, so Oh, nice to

Ben Hall:

fly to like San Francisco and LA. We used to have a lot of pilots bring their skis and snowboards and go, go into the mountains. No

Dave Rogers:

way. Water life

Christy Wise:

isn't tough. It's a tough life as a pilot, you know,

Dave Rogers:

to be through if you know any instances or examples of MPT commercial pilots.

Christy Wise:

I do actually so one of our Air Force, MBT pilots, he got out and he flies for delta now. Awesome. And then I've met or at least talked to a couple. So I think FAA is a little bit better than the military. So a little bit more forward thinking and they do this thing where you just have to do a, it's called a soda statement of demonstrated ability. So you just have to fly with some evaluator instructor from the FAA and do kind of like what I did in the simulator with the military guys just show them that you're capable of operating the pedals and everything.

Ben Hall:

Well, it makes sense. If you can get like, a slightly overweight, 65 year old. You're going to be quicker evacuating than they are right?

Christy Wise:

Yeah.

Dave Rogers:

So three major boxes to tick on your bucket list and complete your military service with aplomb. Get to a winter Paralympic Games and fly a commercial plane.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, that's how you sounded out.

Dave Rogers:

One we should probably

Ben Hall:

go for a gold medal when winter parent Oh,

Christy Wise:

guys I want is I don't even know. Currently, I'm not sure what the Paralympics are gonna happen. So we'll see about that. But

Dave Rogers:

ask ask Ben if he got Paralympic medal.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, Ben, tell us your story.

Ben Hall:

Okay, so in my house, I have three Paralympic medals.

Dave Rogers:

I No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, that wasn't the question, Ben.

Ben Hall:

We were close. Dave.

Dave Rogers:

I mean, close in so much that you were in the same room that the metals were one. Yeah, correct. Okay, and how many how many Mrs. Hall got? Yeah, she's got three. That's cool, isn't it? Yeah, she's

Ben Hall:

got Athens, Beijing and London. Awesome.

Dave Rogers:

Yeah, really amazing. Okay, sitting sitting volleyball

Christy Wise:

Ben is so cool. Yeah, I I have played a little bit I would have loved to do it at Warrior Games or Invictus. But I didn't do any of the team sports because you have to like go to camps and train with the team and you know, back at my base trying to get returned to flying so I couldn't take any time off to go try to join one of the team sports but I love watching sitting volleyball It is so cool.

Ben Hall:

Well if you ever want to play or you're close to Oklahoma, I can hook you up

Dave Rogers:

to Christie it sounds like you've got a very full life and it turns out we've only really scratched the surface because you somehow find time to foster children as well.

Christy Wise:

haha so that is kind of cool story but I when I was at the Air Force Academy, I was working I did a volunteer event with Make A Wish Foundation. So I got to meet this really cool family. They had twin daughters one had a brain tumour and so that's why she was doing the Make a wish thing with they actually came to the academy and we are taking them around the aeroplanes and stuff at the academy sounds really cool. But they had also had besides their twin daughters, they had 10 foster children 10 so I remember 10 twin daughters. So I talked to Sandy the mom. And I remember asking her, I said, Sandy, do you just love kids? Or why do you do this? And she said, No, not really. She's like, I just do it because nobody else does. And someone has to love these kids. And it could be me. So it was really cool that she said that, that always kind of stuck with me. And as I was moving around base to base in the military, I just had this sense, I had this feeling that I never really was a part of the communities that I lived in. So this was even before I lost my leg, I just felt like, Oh, I'm just kind of nomadic, like I'm moving all the time, I don't really get super involved in the local communities of all these places I live. And so I always sent her I'd wanted to be a foster parent, I thought that was a cool, I just a different thing to do. And so once I was stationed in Georgia, I thought, you know, I'm just gonna look into it, I'm just gonna see if I can do it. And so I ended up becoming certified as an emergency. Or they call it like a temporary foster parent. So only, like temporary cases. So I never would have a kid, you know, the longest I had someone was was for a week, I had a teenager for a week. But usually, I would just have kids for a night a weekend. And it was really cool, because they actually needed more temporary foster parents, because nobody gets into foster parent for the temporary. But if say, the mom is caught with drugs in the middle of the night at 2am, and the police come and take the kids, like they need somewhere to go at 2am. And so that was kind of the niche, the small job that I would feel like they could call me in the middle of the night at 2am. Or it was awesome, because they would call me on like a Wednesday night and they'd say, Hey, can you take an eight year old tonight? I'd say no, I'm flying tonight. I can't. But then maybe the next week, I'd get that same call. And I'd say yeah, I'll take it. So it's just really cool. It was just so fun. Honestly, cut my life. So exciting. The kids were fun. I ride skateboards with them, I hang out, get them pizza, you know, and I think maybe slightly spoiled, because I usually had them for such a short amount of time that I would just focus on having fun with them. And so I didn't really see a lot of the discipline issues or the, you know, I had some awkward situations, for sure. But I didn't have a lot of the hard things of being a foster parent. And so I lost my leg in Georgia. Sorry, this was supposed to be short, and it does not show

Dave Rogers:

up. Please, please, please.

Christy Wise:

So I lost my leg in Georgia. I, you know, I let the state foster department know, hey, I'm not home, I'm not going to be home for a while I'm in Texas, undergoing my rehab. So eight months later, when I finished my rehab, I went back to Georgia, I actually called this Child and Family Services sent him just saying, you know, I'm getting back into town back and they're like, great. They had been, you know, calling me checking on me stuff. And so then they call me like an hour later. And they're like, yeah, so since you're back on any chance you can take a teenager tonight. So it was like so funny, like, literally I'm driving back from rehab, I have recovery. I have all my prosthetic legs in the back of my car, I have all this clothes and stuff that I had for eight months, I haven't even gotten back to my house in Georgia. And I'm already getting a call saying can you take a foster kid tonight? And so I thought about it. And I was like, Yes, you know, this is like, to me, it was almost more of like, the more I do the same things that I did before I lost my leg, then the more my life feels the same still, like I'm not any different. Like I'm still Krissy like, yeah, I'm Christina, one leg, but I'm still the same person as I was before. And that ended up being the biggest blessing in disguise I could have ever imagined because I had a roommate. She was a college student when I lost my leg. And she had since graduated while I was in recovery. She graduated and she moved out. And then all of my best friends were deployed on a deployment that I was supposed to be on. But I wasn't because of my obviously my recovery. So I think that first week, and when I was in recovery, I was actually living with my sister. She came and lived with me while I was going through recovery. So I think that first week back would have been so hard in Georgia because now I'm back home. But everything's different. My friends are all gone. They're on a deployment that I'm not on my roommates gone. I'm in this house all by myself. I'm used to flying being on the flying schedule. I'm not because I hadn't gone through any of the medical board process yet. So I'm literally just doing like a desk job every day. So that week, I think would have been probably one of the hardest weeks of my recovery. Because everything was so different. But then because a foster teenager, every night was like, Okay, what are we doing tonight? We're going to movies, okay? Tomorrow, let's go play basketball at the park lands. And so, so cool, because I think it just shifted my mind from like, here's my problems. Here's how my life has changed. And then Instead, it was all about this foster kid and like, how can I support him? So it was just amazing

Dave Rogers:

that my mom was a was a foster parent. And she's a great woman. And God, I love her dearly. But I can't help but feel as though it would have been much cooler to have a pilot as a foster parent. than than my mom. I love you, Paula. I'm so sorry. I've thrown you under the bus there. Now absolutely incredible stuff. So how how long did you did you do that for? Are you still on on any of the registers to do it?

Christy Wise:

Yeah, so I did. In Georgia. I also did a little bit in Arizona, which is my last duty station. And then right now in Colorado, I'm undergoing the training, the one thing that sucks is that every state in the US is different. So every time I move, I have to get re certified. And then some of the rules are different. So in Georgia, it was the best for doing that temporary stuff. In my other states, it hasn't been as easy to do. So.

Dave Rogers:

It sounds like it sounds a lot like being a pilot. They're always making you jump through hoops to do something, aren't they? Yeah. So right, what have we got here? We've got skier pilot athlete foster care,

Ben Hall:

while making us feel bad.

Christy Wise:

I'm sorry. I know, this is what my friends say. I don't really I think it's I just a lot of it, I think is the military like moving so much. Being a foster parent was one thing that made me feel a part of the communities I was in. So you know, I don't know if I would have done that. Not being in the military. I'm not sure. Or, you know, for me just like sports or whatever, because my life has been some somewhat so nomadic than I do, like really focused on my hobbies, or the things that I love, because that makes it feel the same no matter where I'm at.

Dave Rogers:

Yeah. And I suppose for the, for the kids and the teenagers that you fostered as well. It's, it's trying to give them that sense of belonging as well, no matter how temporary it is, because you know how important that is to you, for you to be able to pass that on to them as well. something quite special, isn't it?

Christy Wise:

Yes, exactly. And I had, Oh, my gosh, I had just like, and even after those first few kids that I had, after I lost my leg just kind of renewed like this is why I do it. Because now I'm teaching them hey, I went through some hard things to like, you know, you're not in foster care for no reason. But I'm doing okay, you can do okay. I had this little girl, she was eight to secure this girl and she's talking to her mom on the phone. You know, I'm letting her use my phone. And she goes, I'm kind of eavesdropping from the other interesting. Miss Christy, who's watching me mom, she has only one way. I still like her.

Dave Rogers:

I bet the kids as well. They'd speak to you in a way and they'd ask you questions that some adults would probably be scared to. Yeah, yeah.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, kids just say what they think which is really fun. Yeah.

Ben Hall:

I What else have I missed then? You've also miss the fact that Christie runs a nonprofit charity doing prosthetic loop kids prosthetic legs to kids,

Dave Rogers:

cause she does

Ben Hall:

who doesn't have a charity nowadays?

Dave Rogers:

me Tell me about loving Christie.

Christy Wise:

So yeah, one so it's called one leg up on life and it was just based on in the hospitals really cool by the military actually put one of my friends on official orders to escort me and those first like two weeks he was doing all the safety investigations and it was basically his primary military job was to take care of me help take care of me. So that was just so cool. His called the family liaison officer the flow so we were like, what, where's the flow? But it was so cool. Like a way that the military supported me in the very beginning was, you know, assigning him to my case and like helping make sure everything was happening nice and smoothly. So it was you know, less pressure on my family because he was there. So him and my sister who was there with me, their phones just kept ringing off the hooks like people are texting and calling like all my military friends, my Academy friends from my hometown and then even from like, the area where I got hit Because of that police investigation we talked about earlier, like so many people knew about me, and we're, you know, trying to check on me. And so George, he's the flow, he's like, I'm just going to make a blog. I'm going to call it one leg up on life, the site clever name, just so that we can post things on the blog, and people will stop calling me. So it's kind of really cool to write because it was like, all of us were like, Oh, sweet, named George, whatever, we don't care. I mean, it's funny. Move on. And so basically, in the next couple, like days and weeks, this blog just took a whole nother not nothing we ever expected. We had, like, 1000s of people following it. And that's kind of the first time that we realised like, hey, we've got a lot of people supporting me and supporting this journey I'm on and let's do something positive with it. And so that's when we decided, Tim, the one who was with me, the night of the accident, my friend, Tim, he was like, let's start a nonprofit. And I want our first event to be a paddleboard race at the end of the summer, where you got hit. Oh. So they Yeah, so we did that. And it was so cool. Because it was like the way for me it was like, just as important mentally as anything else, or symbolically of like, this is where I got hit. This was exactly what I was doing when I lost my leg, but I'm not gonna let this change me. I'm not going to be afraid of the water and we're gonna use this all for good. So it's really cool. Yeah. Wow, we so we had and it was also really cool. Like I said, because the local community had been, it's funny because no one even knew my name or that I was an Air Force pilot or whatever they just knew about the girl on the paddleboard. And so our logo for our one nonprofit is actually a girl on a powder word, prosthetic leg. And so we put posters all over the area. And so when we had our event at the end of the summer, which was only a couple months later, we had all these people come out to me me because they had heard about the girl the paddleboard but they never actually knew anything about me specifically. So I was just like, such an amazing thing. And then my sister, she, I've talked about her a couple times, she's actually in the met in the medical field. So she was in medical school at the time. But when we decided to do a nonprofit, she had worked in the hate in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with kids through this other organisation. So when we're like, Hey, what do we want to do? She was like, Well, I know some amputees in Haiti that need help. So let's help them.

Dave Rogers:

So have you been Have you been able to provide prosthetic limbs for for people? For us?

Christy Wise:

Yeah, we've gotten every year since 2016. Not since COVID. But we've given probably over like 40 prosthetic limbs to amputees. And then right now, it's really cool. We actually have a Haitian prostitutes that we work with in the country. So since COVID, we've just been able to send her money and supplies to keep working with amputees even though we can't travel right now.

Dave Rogers:

Amazing, amazing. And if people are listening, and they're wondering if they can get involved, where can they find out more about that? Not for profit organisation?

Christy Wise:

Yeah, so they can just go to one leg up on life.org.

Dave Rogers:

Oh, wonderful stuff. I think that is a great place to end this podcast. Christy, it has been such a pleasure to chat to you and get to know you. And with all the ambitions you've got left to do. Good luck. I can't see that. There's anything that's going to stand in your way from here.

Christy Wise:

Thank you. Yeah, I just want to have I just want to say one, kind of like, disclaimer,

Dave Rogers:

but please do.

Christy Wise:

Sort of a lot of people hear my story. And they just focus on like, all the accomplishments and like, Oh, my gosh, you have a nonprofit, and you fly and you do all this stuff. But it was just kind of like, this is life. And I just did one thing at a time. You know, I never wanted to really start a nonprofit. But then we had all this support. And we're like, why wouldn't we? You know, and I was flying. I was like, I didn't realise how much I loved it tells God and so I was like, I'm gonna get back to flying. So I think I try to just, hopefully still relate to people like I didn't really want or plan any of these things. But I just am now living my life one thing at a time.

Dave Rogers:

Regardless of the achievements, I think the overwhelming message from this chat and I'm sure you'd agree with me is that Christie is just a pretty good egg.

Christy Wise:

Yeah, thank you so much, guys. I will keep in touch.

Ben Hall:

Thanks for listening to the pilot based podcast. We'll be back next week with another great guest from the aviation industry. Don't forget to check out our new career platform, our pilot base.com and all the socials at pilot base HQ. If you enjoyed this podcast, don't forget to subscribe and write a review