Student pilot with disability has lofty goals for the future
“When I’m up in the air flying and look down, everything is just so perfect. Just the way God made it. You don’t see any imperfections. When I fly it’s as if all the things that affect a person while on earth just disappear and the barriers all get broken down.”
Enock Glidden of Bethel was born with Spina Bifida. His parents were told by doctors that he wouldn’t live longer than three months. Glidden’s mom, who has a strong religious faith, prayed and cared for her son like any loving mother would.
Today, with upwards of 50 surgeries behind him and two years in bed, at the age of 34 Glidden has defied doctors’ prognosis and he credits his life plan to God.
“Life shouldn’t have happened for me, but it did,” stated Glidden. “I’m not going to wait around for things to happen.”
A native of Millinocket, Glidden remembers having a lot of friends through his childhood years, and thinking that his wheelchair may have made him more popular. “Everyone wanted to help me,” he said. “I wasn’t picked on. Kids were always around trying to do what they could for me.” As he grew older and wanted to experience more, he began to figure out different ways to do those activities that people with legs often take for granted.
On entering Katahdin Junior High in Millinocket, Glidden was grateful to his physical education teacher, Bob Dyer, who took it upon himself to take Glidden hunting, fishing, cycling, even traveling to Sunday River to learn how to ski.
“He was such a great help to me,” said Glidden. “I really began to experience a lot more and I fell in love with skiing. He even worked the activities into my phys. ed program. It was great.”
From then on, he found ways to play basketball, tennis and kayaking.
When Glidden was 13, he attended a Christmas party where Santa arrived on a helicopter.
“Someone had somehow convinced the pilot to take me up and I was hooked. Everything just looked like it was supposed to be there. It all looked neat from up there. No imperfections. Like everything was supposed to go.”
When he finally came down from the helicopter - and the high he was on - Glidden knew he wanted to be a pilot.
It wasn’t until several years later, in 2006, that he was able to begin taking classes.
In 2010 he moved to Bethel. He still needs to take more flying lessons in order to get his license. He is currently taking classes to get his degree in computer information systems so that he can find a job and fund his flying dream, but he’s finding it very difficult. “The accessibility to jobs is a bit of a problem,” said Glidden.
He has set some goals and has no doubt that one day he will attain them. He would like to own a plane of his own and become a flight instructor in order to teach other disabled people to fly. He also has a dream to design and sell adaptable wheelchairs for people to use in various situations.
“It’s expensive to take on too much,” Glidden said. “You have to have a different chair for anything you do. I want to have adaptable and detachable parts so you can play basketball, tennis, wheelchair race or whatever you want without having to buy a whole other chair.”
Glidden believes he couldn’t live in a better place than Bethel, where everything he enjoys in life is at his fingertips.
“It couldn’t be more perfect. The airport is only five minutes away. I can kayak every day, go skiing at Sunday River. It’s all a part of God’s plan. Sandy helps me out a lot. We enjoy getting outdoors and exploring with her boys, they’re my buddies. We enjoy the challenges. We like to prove that we can do it. There are no barriers.”
Glidden doesn’t want people to feel sorry for him. “I’ve never known any different. I just want people to know that there’s always a way to do anything. You’ll do it if you want to do it badly enough. It makes life so much more meaningful to enjoy and experience things and I’m not waiting around for them to just happen to me. I know God has a plan for me and I’m doing my best to do my part.”
To read more about his dream to fly, or to help with raising funds for him to eventually get his instructor’s license, visit www.gofundme.com/tq6to#description.