Tom Kurdziel enjoyed his work as a commercial and industrial construction consultant, but his real passion was aviation and he was working towards getting his pilot’s license.

On May 1, 2010, he was flying in a practise area near Cremona when the weather took a turn for the worse. With safety in mind, he returned to Springbank Airport outside of Calgary to continue his practise there.

As he worked on “stop and goes” (landings and takeoffs) at Springbank, the wind picked up. On his fourth stop and go, a strong and sudden gust caught his small plane and he lost control. The plane hit the runway and cartwheeled into the grass.

Tom remembers hanging upside down in the plane as airport workers came running to help. They lifted the overturned plane and cut Tom out of his seat.  STARS arrived as he was freed from the wreckage.

Tom was rushed to Foothills Medical Centre where physicians treated him for severe facial lacerations, a head injury, a broken leg, dislocated hip, broken ribs and a punctured lung. He spent four days in the Intensive Care Unit and another six days in hospital, during which time he had surgery to repair his leg which had been broken in three places.

Tom hopes to return to flying in the coming year, as soon as he is able to be medically recertified. In the meantime, he is enjoying being a new father – in August 2011, Tom and his girlfriend Natalia welcomed their baby daughter, Azaria, to the world

Meet more of our VIPS