May 26, 1985 my other birthday.I went for what was supposed to be a 30 minute plane ride with my best friend, a guy who I had grown up with, best man at our wedding, etc. to give my wife and his wife enough time to set up his surprise birthday party - and we never came back.We both had our private pilot licenses, but I had recently sold my airplane because I wasn't getting enough flying time to feel comfortable due to my work schedule. Rick was a paramedic with the LA City Fire Dept, so his schedule allowed him lots of free time to fly - and he did. We both flew only for fun, so if there were any weather issues - a chance of fog, rain, wind...whatever - we just wouldn't go.Some things get a little fuzzy from the day of the crash - I remember bits and pieces, but have no recollection of many of the details.This particular afternoon was clear and calm. I helped Rick wash his plane (a Globe Swift 2 seat high performance training plane built in the 50s), then we climbed in and taxied out for takeoff from Camarillo Airport. We took off and headed east toward the hills near Moorpark the next thing I remember is lying on the ground in incredible pain.Apparently we were flying over a canyon just north of Moorpark when a part that controls the aileron in one wing broke loose, making the plane start to roll to the right. Turning the wheel to the left to stop the roll caused the plane to lose altitude very quickly. Since we were only a few hundred feet over the sides of the canyon, we ended up hitting the canyon wall hard with the bottom of the airplane at approximately 135 knots or about 150 mph. The plane bounced back up like a flat rock skipping on water. The second skip was a much harder impact on the nose below the prop, but it skipped back in the air before slamming straight into the opposite side of the canyon.In the Globe Swift, the occupants sit side by side with your legs under the instrument panel. Since the initial impact was on the bottom of the plane, it was like we were dropped from a height of about 50 I had 2 vertebrae that essentially exploded from the compression. At this point, the plane was starting to break apart. I had on a 4 point seat belt, but all 4 hold down positions failed. On the next hit on the nose, I was ejected through the aluminum top of the fuselage with the remains of the seat belts still draped over me. My left leg somehow made it out from under the instrument panel - unfortunately my right leg got caught. My right knee was bent backward (hyperextended) so that it ripped all 4 ligaments and the patellar tendon. I apparently landed feet first about 150 from the 2nd impact still going quite quickly. Hitting the ground broke both of my legs and caused a compound fracture (bones sticking out through the skin) of my right ankle. I tumbled end over end for another 250 or so before landing in a ravine further down the canyon.Rick wasnt quite as lucky his seat belts kept him in the plane and he suffered massive deceleration injuries when the plane slammed into the other side of the canyon. The doctors did everything they could, but he had too many internal injuries and died several hours later.Fortunately, we had an Emergency Locator Transmitter onboard. In case of a crash, this transmitter sends out a signal on the emergency frequency to let rescuers find you. Our signal was picked up by a Soviet satellite which triggered their notification system. The Russians notified the Pentagon who notified Ventura County Sheriff Search and Rescue they sent out their helicopters to medivac us out. The only problem was that it was starting to get dark and the Search and Rescue people couldnt find us. The wreckage of the plane was partially hidden from view unless you were right on top of it. They didnt find us until 2 ½ hours later.Needless to say, we were both in very bad shape. They had to extract Rick from the wreckage and get me far enough back up the canyon wall to safely get us all into the helicopter. Even though I dont remember any part of it, they later said that I gave them names, addresses, contact phone numbers I wouldnt shut up I was a real mess when they got me to the hospital. On top of the injuries I have described, there was massive internal bleeding and several vital organs that were damaged. I was having trouble breathing, so they did a tracheotomy. The pieces of the crush vertebrae had torn my liver, spleen, and bile ducts. They rushed me into surgery and got the bleeding stopped, but they had a real tough time trying to get the bile ducts to stop leaking into my abdomen. I had drains coming out of everywhere and they still hadnt dealt with my back or legs. They reset my left leg, but were still debating what to do with my right leg since I not only had bone damage, but massive soft tissue damage. They considered amputating but decided to try to patch it back together and see where it was after everything else had a chance to heal but they were sure that it wasnt going to be useable either way. They ended up doing a full reconstruction on my knee and ankle.I was extremely lucky with my back. While I had nerve damage to both legs, I wasnt paralyzed although I probably should have been from tumbling, etc for 400 at the crash site. There were 3 operations to clean up the bone fragments, insert 12 titanium rods to stabilize the area, and fuse the damaged vertebrae to the nearest ones.In all, I had 7 operations in the first 2 weeks and with all of the drugs, dont remember most of it (which is probably a good thing). I ended up spending 6 weeks in intensive care, then got transferred to a regular room where I spent almost 3 months. I went home with a wheelchair, massive back brace, and marginally functional legs.The nerve damage in my legs was very strange. I had full feeling everywhere and limited motion below the knees, neither of my thighs would move at all which made walking pretty much impossible. I used the TENS machine to electrically stimulate the muscles in my legs and did physical therapy a couple of times a week. After about 6 months, I started getting little twinges in my right thigh a few weeks later, they started in my left leg. Within the next 6 months, I had pretty much complete use of my right thigh, and all but 2 of the 4 quadriceps muscles in my left thigh. This allowed me to drive again and learn how to walk. Like I said before, its not pretty, but I can get around. I have to lock my left knee on every step so I have kind of a Frankenstein gait. When I forget to lock my knee, I end up on my ass which is more embarrassing than painful.After all was said and done, the message I came away with was to never give up. There are very few things that I cant do I have found ways to adapt the things that I CAN do in ways to accomplish tasks that I cant do directly. There are plenty of days when I feel sorry for myself because I will never run or jump or play sports or stuff like that again. There are plenty of days when my knee really hurts or my ankle is sore or my back hurts just sitting at my desk. Ive had a couple of injuries that can be directly attributed to my previous injuries (broken elbow on one of my missed knee locks, and falling off of our 2 story roof when my left leg collapsed, but thats another story) Im looking at a full knee replacement within the next 5-10 years, but all in all its not that bad.Holy Crap! I did not expect this to end up as long as it is sorry about that. Probably much more than you wanted to know. Please join me in celebrating my Re-Birth Day!