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From Helicopters to One-Armed Kite Flying

By Michael de Volpi

My Name is Michael de Volpi and it is with great joy that I can say I am a kite flyer, but at one time, Inever thought I would ever be again. I am 34 year's old, and used to be a commercial diver, Helicopter Pilot, skier, and skydiver amongst other things.

I used to fly sport kites in a small way, until I became seriously ill and had a stoke, after a year in hospital and rehab facility I was left paralyzed on the left side of my body.

I haven't worked for over two years since I came out of hospital and I haven't done much except wander around City parks with my dog, Judy. Well one day I encountered Ray Bethell flying Multiple kites at Vancouver Vanier Park, we started talking and I told Ray that I used to fly, and that I have given all my kites to my brother who lives in Montreal. I told Ray that because of my problem, I will never be able to fly again, Ray said "nonsense, would you like me to help you? I will have you up and flying in no time flat." I said "but I have only my right hand and side, the rest is useless". Ray asked me if I was going to cry about my problem or do I want to fly again? I thought this man had no compassion and went home.

A few days went by, and I had been thinking a lot about what Ray said, I wandered back to the park with my dog and sat on the monument steps watching Ray doing his magic. After he landed, he caught sight of me and called out "Mike are you ready for the challenge? If you are, get your bum over here and lets do it." Ray told me to forget about my left hand, he set me up to fly with one line on the left side of my waist and the other in my right hand. After about 15 minutes I was completely exhausted, Ray said that's enough for today, come back for more tomorrow. It was a very slow progress. But with Ray's technique and patience and my enthusiasm of flying again it paid off with dividends. After two months I threw the brace on my left leg away, after three months I was flying with both hands and could land and take off unaided, also I did not need any help putting my lines out, putting my kite together or packing it away.

I was really having a great time, and what surprised me the most is how helpful all the kite flyers were, there was always someone ready to help if I needed it and the encouragement I got from every one was wonderful. With Ray's help my next step was to build my own kite.

I would like to thank all the members of the Vancouver High Flyers and all the other kite flyers in Vanier Park for hanging in there with me. And a special thank you to Ray, for reintroducing me to the sport of Sport Kite Flying and for helping me regain my enthusiasm and love of life.

 Mikes Signature

Michael de Volpi
Vancouver B.C. Canada

A note from Ray: All this happened during the early 1990's. Michael made a remarkable recovery and has met and married the lady of his life and now lives in another province in Canada. A specialist in recovery medicine from Zurich, Switzerland (himself a kite flyer) was on vacation in Vancouver when I first started helping Michael. He was very interested in Michael and his progress. On returning to Vancouver the following year he was amazed at what kiting and fellowship had done for Michael.

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