Microlight flight attempt to reach South Pole by forces’ heroes
Tuesday, 22nd January, 2013: A team of injured servicemen are to attempt a world-first microlight flight to the South Pole.
In partnership with Help For Heroes, the seven-strong team of pilots will today launch the Flying For Freedom mission which, seeks to enhance recovery programmes for injured and disabled servicemen and women by experiencing the freedom of flying microlights.
Lord Digby Jones, Patron of Flying for Freedom, joined the “squadron” at the Tower of London expedition launch today to pay tribute to their bravery in tackling the task and giving fresh hope to all injured and disabled military personnel.
The expedition, which has never been attempted by an able-bodied person, will take place in 2014 after the team have completed their pilot’s training and undertaken cold weather training.
The polar aero trek will involve a round trip flight of over 3,000 miles, flying at cruising altitudes of up to 10,000 feet in temperatures as low as -30 degrees centigrade. The expedition will also attempt to achieve three world firsts, the first flexible wing flight in Antarctica, first over the South Pole and first over Mount Vinson which at 16,050 feet is the highest peak on the Antarctic continent.
The expedition is part of a wider programme being undertaken by Flying for Freedom to establish a number of ‘flying’ recovery centres around the UK for injured and disabled servicemen and women.
Lord Digby Jones explains: “The challenge and the thrill of learning to fly has been shown to boost the recoveries of those who have suffered injuries or disabilities. Flying for Freedom aims to bring this benefit to many servicemen and women, aiding their recovery and also teaching them a new skill which could help them when they leave the armed forces.”
Martin Colclough, Head of Physical Development, Help for Heroessaid: "Overcoming adversity by pitting yourself against the elements of land, sea and air is what many members of our Armed Forces find incredibly helpful when coming to terms with their injuries. For some this will be something simple such as learning to ski or ride a bike again but many others look for a unique challenge that's never before been attempted and this is such a challenge. Over the last few years several injures personnel have discovered the freedom of flight but the Flying for Freedom South Pole Expedition takes aviation to a whole other level. Help for Heroes are delighted to be working in partnership with Flying for Freedom, the men and women taking on this challenge are true pioneers and will truly deserve their place in the pantheon of Great British aviators."
The seven disabled pilots, all of whom have served in the Army or Royal Air Force, are from across the UK:
Capt (Retd) Martin Hewitt, Parachute Regiment from Wilmslow, Cheshire
SSgt Matt Raasch-Sotinwa, Royal Engineers from Barnstaple, Devon
Flt Lt Kat Janes, RAF Boulmer, from Alnwick, Northumberland
Capt Luke Sinnott, Royal Engineers from New Milton
Pte Nathan Forster, Parachute Regiment from South Shields, Tyne & Wear
Former LCpl Jamie Hull, Parachute Regt from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire
Cpl Alan Robinson, RAF Waddington from Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire
Flight Lieutenant Kat Janes, based at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland spent time at Headley Court and met Martin Colclough, Help for Heroes last year in Utah at an adaptive Bob Sleigh and Skeleton Bob competition:
‘I saw a presentation by Martin about the expedition to the Antarctic and straight away I was interested, it looked like a whole new challenge for me. If you don’t try these things you never know what you can do; I had never flown a microlight before but when I was airborne, open to the elements its unbelievable; the freedom you have up there is incredible. The microlight is easy to handle and people who have disabilities can fly them; one of the guys I’ve met through the training is in a wheel chair and he flew from York in the UK to Sydney Australia!
Flying for Freedom is seeking to raise sponsorship funds of £1.2 million to launch the full Flying for Freedom project and mount the expedition. It is already acquiring aircraft and training pilots thanks to the generosity of its two initial sponsors – EADS and Lord Digby Jones.
For more information, visit http://www.fly2pole.com/
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2013