Springfield pilot with Parkinson’s takes to the sky again with help from local organization

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s been ten years since Springfield Native Rick Burkhart piloted a plane, not since this avid flyer was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

However, after all these years, Rick is back at the controls flying again.

Since he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a brain disorder that effects walking and coordination, Rick Burkhart gave up flying as well as the flying school he founded at Westfield’s municipal airport. But a program called Dopafit, that renewed his confidence in the ability to fly again.

“This effort to get into things that we used to do, or would love to do, or dreamt about doing. I think its wonderful,” Burkhart told 22News.

“We wanted to show everyone that even though he has Parkinson’s disease, if though he hasn’t done something in a while, you can still do things you continue to love,” Chad Moir, Founder and CEO of Dopafit.

Moir developed the organization after his mother passed away from Parkinson’s disease long before her time.

No one was prouder of Rick’s achievement piloting a plane once again than his son, Mike Burkhart.

“He wants to be independent, he wants to be doing the things he’s always done. Coming out to fly, yeah he’s a pilot nut,” Mike said.

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