Formula Gold Champion, Justin Meaders is a rare breed. This year he won the Formula One Class at the Reno, but what makes this feat unusual, is that he is the only paraplegic air racing pilot in the world.
Justin Meaders wouldn’t let a tragic accident derail him, and this year he took home the Gold.
As a kid, Justin was always very active, from riding motorbikes at the young age of five and progressing to motorbike racing. He was very motivated and full of energy, becoming a firefighter and EMT after college, but still riding motorbikes.
At the age of 22, his extreme sports nearly came to an end when a tragic motorbike accident left him paralysed from the hips down, confining him to a wheelchair.
Not giving up because of a setback, as soon as he left the hospital, Justin resolved to continue his active lifestyle by acquiring a handcycle, after-all he says, “This was just another way to feed my adrenaline extreme lifestyle.” The handcycle also allowed him to continue his physical exercise and related activities. After six months, he entered a handcycle race, and was hooked. “This fed my competitive spirit,” he said, “while allowing me to keep physically fit.”
Triathlons became part of his ongoing activities, participating as a paraplegic in his special adapted racing chair, along with swimming and running.
During all of this time post injury, Justin decided that it was time to take on his next challenge, which was becoming a licensed pilot. Only a handful of paraplegics have successfully earned their private pilot certificate. He now counted himself as one of those few. He continued to gain valuable flying experience and decided he wanted to get into racing again.
The next logical step was to start racing, by becoming a Formula One Air Race pilot.
He trained hard and in his debut season of air racing, won Rookie of The Year Award. In 2018, he won the Formula One Air Racing World Championships in his custom-designed race aircraft that he had built himself.
Fast forward to this year 2022, where Justin Meaders is now the Reno Formula One Gold Champion.
Justin Meaders is a true inspiration, and truly one-of-a-kind.