June 03, 2018

Volunteers Week - read Andrea Lowndes story

Regular Aerobility Volunteer Andrea Lowndes tells us a little about her volunteering experience so far.

'Having had a wonderful career in aviation of 30 years, mainly as cabin crew on private jets, I really wanted to give something back.

Whilst looking for a hoist to get a friend who is a wheelchair user into an aircraft, a pilot friend of mine suggested I didn't try and reinvent the wheel and to go straight to Aerobility.

The Chief Flying Instructor, Mike Owen, took my friend flying at Aerobility's base at Blackbushe; she had an amazing trial flight and on that day I decided to pester the life out of this great charity until they gave me some voluntary work to do!

That was six years ago and my feet haven't touched the ground since..
In that time I've assisted with many events including the Global Flight Simulator challenge hosting the great astronaut Buzz Aldrin and radio presenter Chris Evans whilst our team managed to raise £100,000!

I have supervised many Aviation Experience days for young people and adults with all disabilities. For a time I was a volunteer coordinator, ensuring reception cover 6 days a week.

Even though I'm not a pilot I've supervised and assisted with flying days for all sorts of charities and organisations including the 'Stroke Association', 'Challengers' and WIS (wounded, injured and sick service men and women).  One soldier said after his trial flight, 'Well I've had four years of hell but I've just had 30 mins of sheer bliss!'

That's what makes this all worthwhile, knowing we're really making a difference to people's lives. Flying distracts people from their pain and troubles and it's an awesome confidence builder.

I was, for a time, coordinator for our Aviation Education programme which helped young people build confidence by gaining more knowledge about the aviation subjects they already loved. The course year culminated in a trial flight in an aircraft. It was so exciting to watch our students faces light up as they sat in the pilots seat on their Celebration day and the same day watching a young man on the Autistic spectrum who had arrived with zero self confidence finish his year doing a power point presentation with such skill and confidence, there wasn't a dry eye in the house by the time he'd finished.

I am able to call on my 'hosting' skills to volunteer at Aerobility's Aviators ball, a huge fund raising event we hold annually. I'm able to help people have a lovely evening whilst raising money and spreading awareness about the charity.

Yesterday another volunteer, who is a pilot,, and myself, an ex member of cabin crew, were tasked with meeting and greeting friends of the charity at our 'Picnic by the planes' event. It was like hosting our own party,
I met so many lovely friends of all ages that I've made over my time with the charity. 

I'm often asked to represent the charity working on a stand at air shows and various events. We always have a stand at the Farnborough Air Show and later in the year we are representing the charity at the BBC Children in Need's Carfest South.

I love working with young people and have two young relatives  on the autistic spectrum so once a month I assist with our Aviation Club for young people with disabilities. 

Every year a group of volunteers and myself organise a trip to take a group of young people to the Farnborough Airport Fire Station where they can be 'Fireman for a day'. The Firemen give them such a great day and it's an experience the young people wouldn't normally have access to.

Aerobility is a small charity so everybody mucks in and as a small, growing charity it's dynamic and continually evolving which is why I still love helping out where I can.'

Andrea Lowndes - June 2018.

May 22, 2018

Wing Walking Daring Dozen!


Fundraisers take to the skies to raise money for Aerobility  
On Tuesday 15th May 12 daring individuals took to the skies for an exhilarating challenge as they completed a wing walk at RFC Rendcomb in Gloucestershire to raise money for Aerobility. 
The wingwalkers were strapped on the top wing of a biplane, experiencing an exciting series of flypasts, zoom climbs and steep dives!  
One participant, Emma Parry, NATS employee, who had done a wing walk before, was brave enough to be strapped to the plane while the plane performed loops and barrel rolls. 
The 12 fundraisers raised a total of more than £10,000. The valuable funds raised will be used to support ongoing flight training bursaries for up to 10 disabled people. 
This was the second consecutive year Aerobility have organised a fundraising wing walking event and we will be looking to do the same again next year. 
Aerobility CEO, Mike Miller-Smith MBE, said: “I’d like to thank all of our participants for taking part in the wing walk and for raising a fantastic amount of money for Aerobility. The money they have raised will help us to continue the work we do using aviation as a tool to enhance the lives of people with disabilities.” 
This year is Aerobility’s ’ 25th anniversary and we have lots of fundraising events planned for the rest of the year to celebrate our anniversary.  
Thwing walk was made possible in partnership with AeroSuperBaticshttp://www.aerosuperbatics.com/ 
Location:  RFC Rendcomb Airfield, The Whiteway, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 7DF. 

May 16, 2018

The Aviation Club's trip to Farnborough Airport Fire Station

The Aviation Club, our monthly fun, sociable club for young people (14 - 18yrs) with physical disabilities and/or mild to moderate learning disabilities, took a trip out to Farnborough Airport last weekend and were lucky enough to have a guided and hands on tour of the fire station!

Big thanks to Firefighter Pete Powell and his team for a great 'Firefighter for a day' experience.  Aviation Club members experienced working as a team; using water hoses, firing the cannon water hose on top of the fire engine, rescuing the casualty from the underground training area, and they were also able to take a close up view of the equipment Firefighters use whilst fighting fires.

Thanks also to TAG Farnborough Airport for allowing us to visit the terminal building and also to Gama Aviation Flight ops for giving us a talk about their operation and allowing us to visit their Lear 45 aircraft.

Such an exciting day topped off with a surprise viewing of a Spitfire aircraft flying over Farnborough airport!

If you'd like to join our Aviation Club please email gail@aerobility.com for more details.

May 11, 2018

WO Jenny Olivant decides to see out her 35 year career in the RAF with a fundraising Wing Walk!

WO Jenny Olivant 

Before I leave the RAF later this year after 35 years of service, I thought I would try one last new activity before I go off to enjoy a peaceful retirement. So I decided to take part in a rather crazy charity event. I’ll be doing a sponsored Wing Walk in aid of Aerobility!! This will involve me being strapped on the top wing of a Breitling biplane, being flown through the air at up to 150mph doing flypasts, steep dives and zoom climbs!  

This madness takes place on May 15th at Rendcomb airfield, former WW1 RFC airfield near CirencesterFingers crossed for a calm and sunny day! 

Aerobility is a charity which gives disabled people the chance to fulfil their dream of flying, whatever their disability.  

For some, just that amazing first flight is enough to change their outlook on disability forever. Others, realising that the fantasy of flight is truly in their grasp, decide to continue their training - many all the way to securing a Private Pilot's Licence, some even with an outlook to commercial flying. 

 I have pledged to raise £750 however; I have already almost doubled my personal target of £1000. If you fancy supporting me in this good cause and help me to meet my target then please go to the MyDonate page link below