SAFA Skysailor Magazine

36 SKY SAILOR May | June 2022 Popular paraglider pilot, Rod Burke, sadly passed away on 4 April 2022. His friends remember him as a passionate pilot, who enjoyed sharing his skills and experiences with fellow flight enthusiasts. Between 2010 and 2015, Rod held the position of President with the Central Coast Sky Surfers Club, based on the NSW Central Coast, and flew paragliders for over a decade. While he moved on to other sports, such as kayaking and cycling in the years following this, it was just after his diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2020, that he was reintroduced to paragliding.  Rod bravely fought a two-year battle with MND and continued to enjoy his love of flying until his final days. His close friend and fellow Central Coast PG pilot, Geoff Bednal, was the one to take Rod into the skies again on a tandem flight in October 2021. Rod recalled the experience in a recent issue of MND NSW News (21 December 2021), only months before his death. “My friends in the club kindly offered to take me on a tandem flight. In October a day with really good weather conditions arrived. My friend Geoff Bednal, one of several accredited tandem pilots in the club, met me at Crackneck Lookout near Bateau Bay.” This was a location Rod had flown solo in previous years before his MND diagnosis. While Rod said being a tandem passenger was fairly easy, it does require normal mobility so two other pilots helped him launch to get him into the air safely. Final flight for paraglider who bravely battled MND