• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Back in Flight

May 1, 2016

chronic pain patient Perry Winder in his pilot uniform sitting a plane cockpit

At the age of 47, Parry Winder was looking forward to a bright future. Retired from two decades as a test and fighter pilot in the United States Air Force, Parry had transitioned into a non-military role that he relished as a commercial pilot and flight instructor. But in an instant, an accident brought Parry's aspirations for his new career crashing down.

Left with debilitating pain, Parry was forced to quit flying. He thought he'd never return to the cockpit. After searching for answers for more than eight years, though, he found the Pain Clinic at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus was able to offer a solution. Today, Parry is pain-free and back in the skies again.

A devastating day

In 2004, Parry was regularly flying domestic and international flights as a captain for a U.S. airline. Part of his duties involved training new pilots. In May of that year, he was a working with a trainee in a flight simulator when a malfunction occurred. The simulator collapsed and fell about 10 feet onto the concrete floor below with Parry still inside.

"I was really broken up," Parry says. "Most of the right side of my body was badly injured. My neck, back, arm and right leg were all broken." Read the rest of Perry's story.

Read more patient stories on Sharing Mayo Clinic.