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Old 07-28-2014, 08:27 PM
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RickI RickI is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
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Default Kiting, Action Sports & Moving On After Dual Leg Amputations at 55

Bille had both legs amputated at 55 following a severe hang gliding tow-up related accident, now six years in the past. While you are reading the following account, you might consider what you would have done following such an accident? Life throws all sorts of challenges at us, big and small ones, how we act and react can make all the difference. You never know what you can do, until you try.

Lets provide some background from a few quotes from an article in The Kiteboarder Magazine titled "The Unstoppable Billy Floyd." from October 18, 2010.

"A little more than four years ago, Billy learned to kiteboard while continuing his hang gliding, and was ranked fourth in the world in hang gliding acrobatics. About two and a half years ago, Billy had his second hang gliding accident. “Overconfidence got me. I was towing up in a hang glider, and I had no concept of the rules of towing. I just had this totally immortal attitude that I couldn’t die. I forgot to hook into the glider"

"Now the glider is starting to lock out, and I knew that if that happened I was dead for sure. So I reached up and popped the release on the tow line and I just couldn’t hang on. There was so much energy built up that the glider shot up as soon as I released. The bar got ripped right out of my hands and I fell right into the ground, feet first."

"On the ground, I turned around behind me and saw this mess of blood and bones. I looked down at my legs and everything below the knees was just exploded."
Please see the complete article for more information at:

I asked Bille on Kiteforum, what advice would he give to people working back from an accident like this and what did he do to help him drive through setbacks? Bille put together a response to my questions and also provided a more in-depth look as to how he worked out of a severe injury like this and back into an active life. It is lengthy but I think it is worth reading, particularly for folks fighting their own challenges or have friends who might be. His story picks up after his severe hang gliding tow accident which destroyed his lower legs, resulting in dual amputations. He is thinking about the way forward.

"SO --here I was, lying in a hospital bed, and both legs just got diced off; and this is my new

reality. I needed to deal with it or Die ; what's it going to be ?

I got the volume turned up wide-open on the animal inside. It's a bit like going into shock

when the body gets damaged; only instead of blocking pain, I was "Trying" to subduing emotional stress.

In November of 2007 I had convinced myself that I'd be getting a handle on how to deal

with the new reality, in as little as a few months. I outright lied to myself, so as to keep

that feeling of HOPE in place! Should have known better, because it was a full year before

I could subdue that yearning sensation for a cigarette, when I quit in 1997. This was to be a much larger

undertaking ; figuring out How to not Loose it because my legs are gone. I had a friend kill himself

because of Bad drugs, and another one do the same because he was having problems with his girl

and I really didn't want to join them.

I Laugh a Lot ; & try to get as many people around me to do the same , (comic relief) ?

It's 2014 now, and I am just now starting to get a clue, on how to adjust the volume on that emotional

charge. It gets me out of bed in the morning, to put on two fake legs and get on with things.

Going around all wound up; it burns me out, just as much as the people around me. So, I am learning to

back down and adapt.

I had a good teacher for that one, my best friend in San Diego who used to be # 6 in the world at full

contact karate. He described several ways to control the switch on that awareness and emotion. It's

a way to actually control the endorphins, that flow through your body. Your awareness

is heightened to a point where time seems to go in slow-motion. Anyone who is practiced and good at what

they do, will have the same experience. In my case, whenever I'm experiencing this while flying , it's

like what a decent snow-skier sees when he's thinking ahead and viewing his line down 3 to 5 moguls in

front of him. I Never thought about using the above technique, to control emotions ; it seams Much more difficult.

Managing things in the new reality :

I spent 2008 in a wheel-chair. Kiting was still a priority and I regularly went to the dry-lake-bed to do

down-winders in my wheelchair over land while a married girl friend followed me in her big red truck. Basically

anything to make myself feel better and keep that ray of hope burning.

The same girl took me on a two-place Manta landsailer that was owned by ,(A Wind of Change), in Las Vegas.

The wind was blowing about 30-mph, and i was sitting on the wind-ward side and watching the dust get thicker

as our speed built. I got scared and asked her to slow down a bit because I was afraid that the thing would


"SLOW DOWN" , she replied ?

I watched her eyes get Bigger, and heard this Clicking noise from the block that fed the sheet to the Main-sail

as she powered-up the machine. I noticed the dust stop on the tire on my side ; it left the ground, and she had

the forces all balanced perfectly . GPS had us clocked at about 65-mph , in about 15 to 20 seconds later !!

OK -- That was really my First adrenaline Rush, since my accident , ( it was a FUN one) and like All us adrenaline

junkies ; after a decent Rusk, we all , (Want / Need) --------------------------------------------------- More !!

The same girl talked me into purchasing a BloKart landsailer, and over the next few months, we blazed the dry-lake

beds a LOT together, (she had the same machine for herself). It's a single-place landsailer, that would Max-out at about

45-mph ; but 4 to 6 inches off the ground, it seamed Much Faster !!

I purchased a used 13M Ozone Edge, about the middle of summer of 2008, in hopes that I would still be able

to kite-board with my new fake legs, (when i got them) ? Yea, i was hanging on to HOPE ; even though I had

bin told that it probably Wasn't gonna happen.



On Oct 31 , (Halloween) of 2008 I received my first set of Fake legs ; after spending nearly a full year in a wheelchair.

On Thanksgiving day , a month after getting the legs, I went to Joshua Tree Ca , to watch my buddies do some

rock climbing .

Emmy , the 7-year old daughter of my friend Scott, had just come down from a 80-ft vertical rock wall, and

she motioned me over closer to her. She said : " OK Bille, it's Your turn now" , and she actually tied the

figure-8 on the rope, to attach me to my harness, (the one i had Just gotten coaxed into putting on after

the Lil girl told me i could : "Do this". She tells me to just go up a little bit, and her Dad would catch me if I Fall.

Now I'm 40 foot up the wall and i realize that I had Never done any climbing when i Had legs , so what in

world am i doing this Now for, --------------------------------------------------------------- with two Fake legs ?

Emmy and her Dad, kept urging me up further; 45, 50, then 60-ft up. I got to the top at 80-ft and touched the

Belay carabineer; but now I was too tired to repel back down, so Scott called his brother over, and

the two of them let me down like a sack of potatoes!! Remember that I had only received the new fakies a

month earlier, after spending nearly a year sitting on my butt , I was kinda weak !!

I wonder if that Lil girl ever knew just how much drive she gave me to "At-least TRY;" and how much it

would affect me at other sports? It's that "I can DO this" attitude , that she instilled in me right from the

onset; when she gets older I'll tell her how much it helped !!

First climb

It was February-ish 2009, when the same married female friend who took me on the land sailor

(Romona) took me to the lake to to do some body drags with my 19M Peter Lynn ram-air. After several

body-drags, Romona tossed me my board. It was near optimum conditions with side-shore light wind of

about 12 to 13-mph, and the beach bent around a bit about a few 100 yards down-wind, to catch me

if things went bad!

I kept thinking, “I can do this, I made it Up that rock wall ” !

I got up on plane on my second or third try, but that night, I had to go back and figure out exactly WHY the board

wanted to turn up-wind the moment I bent my back leg. Turned out that my duck-stance was the problem.

As soon as I went pigeon-towed, the problem disappeared. My ankles are made of carbon and stainless

steel and it made a difference as to how the angle on the bottom of my foot placement affected my board.

A week later I went to “6-mile,” a local kite beach , with my new, (used) 13M Edge, and gave it a go. It

went well and I was glad that I hadn't wasted my money purchasing something I'd never use!

Each try at a different sport, just reinforced the belief in my abilities; to man-up and try something else.

First kite-board try

March 2009, a buddy took me on a hang gliding adventure, through Southern Cali. My first few tries back on

a gliding , were on a Rogallo-wing . It was a nerve wracking foot launch take-off, but the rush over-

powered the nerves, as soon as the fake feet left the ground. The shot of that first flight is in the magazine

article that RickI posted .

Moving on, I’m starting to feel a bit more human every day but I still have the emotional volume turned up

a bit too high at times. Maybe a Lot too high ?

It was a few months later that I tried a bit of ridge-soaring on my Rigid-wing hang glider at Torrey Pines in

San Diego. Other than forgetting to use the flaps on take-off, that flight went well also. I

got down on myself for that one, because if it had not been blowing 25 mph , I would have been in trouble

trying to launch the glider. After loosing the spleen, and then both legs 20-years later ; i Really shouldn't

be depending on Luck to get me through, (it was probably mostly Gone by now (?)) !!

No excuses for failure ; screw-up and die. It's a mind-set with no room for mistakes.

Torrey Shot on Exxtacy

I tried snow skiing in that same winter. I need a bit of work on that sport, but I had some decent control for what I

had to work with. At the top of the mountain a ski instructor was telling me about how loosening up the boots

will help with my circulation. My buddy & his girlfriend were rolling in the snow from laughing so hard.

When I pulled up my ski-pants, the instructors face turned kinda white with what was showing below the

ski-pants. He could take a joke, and soon we were all laughing !

Well in 2010, I'm up at King Mountain in Idaho and standing at a launch with the same glider as at Torrey

Pines. It's the U.S. National Hang Glider competition and I’ve got maybe a few hundred people watching.

In the beginning, it doesn't go so well, my nerves got to me. I hadn't actually flown that glider in a thermal

for nearly 4 years. When the launch director let go of the nose of my glider at the launch ; I

became gripped with fear. My knees started shaking and the hands began to sweat and then I fell down !

They helped me back up , and blamed the fall on the fake legs. They urged me to try again.

This time I could smell the sage from the valley below and see the wind going through the trees.

A fast flapping, small bird called a Swift, flew past my nose-plate, and began a slight climb, ( urging me to join in).

Then everything went to slow-motion, the burning down my back, with all the hairs on my arms

standing up straight. Everything went into Slow Motion ; I smiled then ran down the launch.

The Gods took me to 14,000 feet in my first thermal and I could hear the crowd below cheering, as they

all got smaller. As soon as the fluid in the inner ear stopped moving; it was like I was still, and the world

below was turning and slowly falling away . I felt :"One With the World" ; such a Cool Feeling !!

I truly felt the feeling that "I'm BACK" !!

King Mt shot

As I got stronger kiteboarding I decided to give a hydrofoil a try. First though, I figured that I

should learn to kite with a surfboard. Needed to learn a different balance while using a surfboard

with the new legs. I would alternate between a twin tip and the surfboard on every other session. Soon I

began to break the fake legs while on both the TT , and surfboard. I broke a total of 6 legs while

kiting. I fixed all of them and proceeded to bust them again, with the help of a HG and PG. One of them was

after a double back-roll on a directional surfboard board , and the old Naish Sky Pirate survived !

Doesn't say much for the integrity of these state of the art prosthesis, does it?


Anyway, last year I busted two fake legs on two consecutive days of kiting, we’re talking $20,000.

in tax-payer money. That is when I decided to stop kiting until i came up with a fake leg design that

could take the abuse. The last design I pulled off the mold, almost took out my knee, because

it was too strong and stiff. All I need to do now is to reduce the stiffness and strength, such that the flex

will allow the knee cap to not load up in a major crash ; but keep it's integrity where it usually breaks

at the bottom. I'm getting close!

Leg Mold shot

I’ve been regularly flying hang gliders and paragliders , along with snow skiing. and land buggy ; I also went

in halves on purchasing a Hobie-20 catamaran with with my buddy last summer.

We went out on Lake Mohave and it was blowing about 30 mph. We had the main reefed in to the size of

a Hobie-16, with no jib. We made it most the way to “9-mile”, when a 35-mph gust came and

blew out the main-sail. My buddy was PISSED, costing $1500 for a replacement.! He kept asking why

do I have to max everything out?! We sailed back on just the jib and the entire way back he kept saying

"Slow Down” , because it was the full size for the 20-ft catamaran , and were headed down-wind !! We had to

sell it after that, because he didn't trust me any more.

No worries ; I still got a Hobie 21se . HeHe !!

Hobie -20

I'm working on staying strong by doing these 4-hour hikes in the local mountains. A woman who just

went to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro at 5,895 meters , (19,341 ft.) ; has offered to help train me, and

it isn't gonna be easy. I'll keep the same attitude that I learned from that first 80-ft climb i did ; keep

that I can do this attitude. Should be in Good shape to kite board in a few more weeks.

One thing I did learn is about Risk management. Like at the top of Calico Tanks, a rough hike outside Las

Vegas last week. I could have easily have scrambled to the top without safety gear, but I stopped short.

Basically I'm starting to realize, that I won't get any better at Anything, if I'm Dead !

Calico tanks

I'll go to wide-open when the timing is right and stay backed off when it isn’t.

It's the reason I get on peoples cases when they jump off mountains with their water-kites and

they’re not using a reserve parachute for a back-up, if things go BAD, (like they did in this next shot).

It's the mid 80's, and I'm on a borrowed glider that just broke while I was about 450-ft up in the air.

That feeling of immortality went away quite Fast, as the speed built in my vertical decent without

the wings to hold me up any longer. It only took a bit of time to fall that 450-ft ; but since my metabolism

was cranking at such a high rate of speed ; the fall appeared to take a Lot longer. Time appeared

to be going, ( Frame by Frame ) ; and the closer i got to hitting the earth, the slower time would

appear to proceed. Then i was DEAD !!

After I got the CPR to bring me back ; I got a Helicopter ride to the ER , where they had to remove

my spleen, and fix a few broken bones. It was a rather expensive lesson that I would have to Relearn

in 2007 ! Sometimes Humans suck , at remembering stuff.

Bad day at Torry

On , Friday May the (30) of this year I learned the most valuable lesson of all, since

my legs ran away. I went to a fly-in, to hang out with a few hundred friends and get

a few hours of air-time. The wind was too light to launch my Rigid-wing, so I borrowed

a paraglider and jumped off the mountain with it. I flew it well enough to pick up a partial sponsorship.

I think that happened because i hadn't smoked any POT in a month, and the mind was

real clear ?

I got High and drunk that same evening. All the next day I smoked more POT, but didn't

drink much beer because I wanted to fly on Sunday, June 1.

So Sunday

I flew my Rigid-wing, and never felt so Disconnected to the machine ; and I have several

hundred hours on it. It didn't make sense at first , because I had done so well, on that new paraglider machine, that

I'd never been on before just two days before.

That evening, I clued-in right away; it was Also the reason i haven't been able to finish my design for a prosthetic

and it was obvious, and the POT needed to be eliminated from my life completely. YEP, I had a Clear-head

when I flew the paraglider, but had lingering amounts of THC from the POT in my body when I was flying

the Rigid-wing on Sunday! I had over-done it the day before with the herb.

SO the last time I got High on POT, was on May 31, and the new leg is nearly Done now .

The results are astonishing, ( imagine that )! Amazing what a person can do with a Clear mind !!

It's been several years now and I'm just now starting to get a clue on

how to adjust the volume on the emotional control button. Just like when i quit smoking; I

feel emotionally stronger every day. At age 61 , I got a feeling I'll be having a Lot of fun for at least

a Few more years; then I'll back down a bit as the reflexes get slower. I'm Hoping I can die on a kite-board

when I'm about 95 !!

And last :
If it weren't for Seriously good friends like Romona and Melli, who helped me out so much
No way would I have the frame of mind I got Now !! This girl went to the bottom of the lake
with a hang-over; and got the leg I lost.

FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi

Last edited by RickI; 07-28-2014 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 07-29-2014, 07:04 AM
ARCSrule ARCSrule is offline
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: JAX
Posts: 36

very good article Rick. I had read up on Billie a few months back after a few post on Foilboarding by him qued up and interest. he's remarkable and an inspiration (to us old guys).
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Old 07-30-2014, 11:01 AM
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RickI RickI is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,691

Thanks, Bille wrote and lived it! Yes, he is an inspiration and still going at things hard. Here's to it!
FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi
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