A team of wounded service personnel will take off tomorrow from Cotswold Airport near Kemble, Gloucestershire, in an attempt to become the first disabled pilots to navigate the British coastline in a fleet of microlights, raising awareness of Flying for Freedom, a not for profit organisation partnered with the charity Help for Heroes.
Above the knee double amputee and former Captain, Luke Sinnott, will lead the unique challenge which aims to demonstrate how flying creates a sense of freedom for those with physical disabilities and inspire other injured or wounded servicemen and women to learn to fly.
The five microlights will depart from Cotswold Airport and follow a 2,000 mile route over 14 days. Each microlight will carry two people and be supported by a ground team travelling by road. The team plan to make over 20 stops and land at some of the UK’s most historic airfields.
Capt Sinnott qualified as a microlight pilot in 2014, training in Flying for Freedom’s modified flex-wing microlights. He planned the trip to highlight the importance of post-injury activities as part of a long-term recovery programme.
He said: “I lost my legs searching for IEDs in Afghanistan. Before the explosion I had been very active, playing rugby and sailing, so I needed to find something else to focus on. I had always wanted to learn to fly and Flying for Freedom gave me that opportunity. When I fly I am free from my disability and on equal terms with able bodied pilots. Flying for Freedom is currently supporting me to become a flying instructor so I can train future disabled and able bodied people to fly.”
The route will be a true test of endurance due to the nature of the terrain the microlights will be flying over. Each pilot has overcome a life changing disability, caused by injury or sickness, to join the pilot programme funded by sponsorship through and public donations to Flying for Freedom.
Flying for Freedom is partnered with Help for Heroes and supported by the Endeavour Fund, founded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. It receives annual support from Airbus Military and Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham.
The Round Britain Flight will highlight the importance of sustainable post-rehabilitation activities and help raise further funding. Donations can be made in several ways. A contribution of £3 can be made by texting ‘WINGS’ to 70900 via a mobile phone. Alternatively, donations can be made by visiting the website: wwwflyingforfreedom.org You can also follow the team's progress on twitter @fly2pole