May 31, 2013

AeroExpo 2013

The Aerobility gang are enjoying AeroExpo at Sywell Aerodrome, where we are exhibiting this weekend. We have just been treated to a display by Aerobility ambassador Guy Westgate, who has parked his glider up next to the PA-28.

Come down and see us - we're here all weekend! 

May 24, 2013

A Wet and Windy Bank Holiday Update

Hello there Aerobility fans!

As the weather closes in for the Bank Holiday Weekend, the chances of getting much flying in are getting slimmer and slimmer. So to keep your aviation reserves topped up here is the latest from the world of Aerobility!

RAF Duxford meets Mary...

Last Saturday, Blackbushe Airport was closed for flying due to the Blackbushe Model Airshow 2013. With a busy day of model flying there was no room left for the full size aircraft, and so Senior Flying Instructor Mike Owen went out for the day with Aerobility members Pedro and Mary. The destination was a great experience for both students; Mary told us that flying into RAF Duxford was something she had never expected to do!

Mary and Pedro shared the flying, with Pedro taking the first leg and Mary seeing the gang safely back into Blackbushe.
Once Pedro had completed a successful landing, the team took in some of the sights and sounds of RAF Duxford. With the whole day to fill, there was time for an educational visit to the American Air Museum, which is home to the largest collection of US military aircraft in Europe, as well as a look round a few of the impressive aircraft that call Duxford home.

Mike and Pedro upgrade from our PA-28 to the impressive VC10 G-ASGC 'BOAC Cunard'

Mike, Mary and Pedro were also lucky enough to get up close and personal with the B-17 Flying Fortress G-BEDF, or Sally B as she is known to her friends. The 55, 000 lb Second World War Bomber is the only airworthy B-17 left in Europe, and is kept alive and well by the hard work of the B-17 Charitable Trust. For those that are interested, more information can be found on their website

Pedro with the beautiful Sally B

After all that excitement, the only thing left to do was to return G-TALE to base. As Mary said, we "saw lovely things, learnt stuff, ate junk, and then I tried to fly, breath, and map read back to Blackbushe via Cranwell and Westcott." 

Can you spot G-TALE?!

Onwards and upwards at Tatenhill...

Aerobility member, Mark, has been training with CFI Craig at Tatenhill for nearly two years. Determined to succeed, Mark has been making the 250 mile-round-trip from his home in Cambridgeshire to the airfield on a regular basis in an effort to gain his licence. Mark has always been a fan of all things aviation, although as a sky-diver in a previous life he's had to get used to making sure there's an accompanying landing for every take off! In 1989, whilst living in his native South Africa, Mark was in a car crash that left him relying on wheelchair and put a halt to his daredevil antics.

After moving to England a few years after his accident, Mark began to miss the thrill of flying. As he told us, "the long-standing desire to learn to fly kept burning, and I slowly got my act together and joined Aerobility." Once he began his training, it became clear that Mark was a natural. He quickly mastered the "bum-shuffle" technique and with the help of a VisionAir hand control was able to develop his own style and technique to safely and independently operate the PA-28. 

The patience and hard-work of both Mark and Craig has all paid off, and two weeks ago Mark embarked on his solo qualifying cross country to Gloucester and Leicester. Craig told us that he was "a little apprehensive when I sent him on his way but when he returned a few hours later the apprehension had gone and he had a very big smile on his face!"

Mission accomplished!

So what next for Mark? "After a bit of consolidation and hours-building, I'd love to do some air-touring, possibly round Ireland and Scotland. My mum is a fan of flying too, so she is definitely going to get some rides; same goes for my sister! Many thanks to them, the rest of my family, friends and other animals for their enthusiastic support!" We wish Mark the very best of luck with his continued flying and hope to help in the search for a plane with a hand control a little closer to home....

An afternoon in Wales....

Truly nationwide now, Aerobility CFI James Brown was taken on a day trip to Wales by member and student Brian.The aim of the trip was to get a new perspective of Snowdonia - Brian wanted to see what it looked like from the air rather than the view he was used to from the ground. So,with the weather looking just about as good as it was going to get, the pair set out for Caernarfon.

A flight plan was concocted on a best-case-scenario, direct route and then scuppered by the Welsh clouds. Best laid plans and all.... The mountain bloc of Cader Idris was completely blacked out, forcing a diversion to the west where Brian was able to pick up the cost at Barmouth. From there, the weather cleared and the full splendour of Snowdonia came into view. With this achieved, it was time for a spot of lunch at the lovely Caenarfon Airport for a bit of lunch before turning round and heading home.

The return journey bought just as many weather-related challenges, as well as spectacular views. Whilst James and Brian had been having their sandwiches, the bad weather (which included a few snow showers!) had moved south and covered Brian's next sight-seeing target, the Elan Valley. The Brecon Beacons provided a great replacement and eased the disappointment. James and Brian did a quick fly past of the old Severn bridge before following the M4 all the way home. 

A big thank you...

Our friends at Nicholson Maclaren popped in a couple of weeks ago and brought the sunshine with them! They also brought us a donation, which was very gratefully received and for which we would like to say a big thank you!

Mike and Brian with Dean from Nicholson Maclaren.
A Summer Event...

This year, the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium is holding its Summer Ball in aid of Aerobility. The ball will be held on Friday 12th July at Sandhurst Military Academy and is set to be a fantastic night. We'd like to say a very big thank you to FAC and hope that many of you will make it the event not to miss this summer.

For more information, check out the links below:

Youth In Aviation...

This week we were very pleased to be invited along to the House of Lords as a member of The Air League's  UK Youth in Aviation Panel. The awareness raising event, which was organised by BA Pilot and Air League Trustee Andy Perkins, was a great success and well attended by aviators and parliamentarians alike. We introduced many more people to the work of Aerobility and continued raising awareness about the possibilities that aviation holds.

Aerobility on the road...

We are very much looking forward to exhibiting at AeroExpo UK 2013 next weekend at Sywell Aerodrome. This promises to be, as ever, an amazing event and we hope to bring our own little bit of Aerobility flare! Aerobility ambassador, Guy Westgate, will be displaying in his Aerobility branded Fox Glider on each day of the exhibition, and may even be towing a special Aerobility message! We will also be displaying our new ballooning project and launching the 2013 Aerobility Raffle so make sure you don't miss out. 

More information can be found at

Over and out...

That's all for now - we hope you have a lovely Bank Holiday Weekend!

Happy Landings

The Aerobility Team

Save the Dates!

A Few For Your Diary!

The Mobility Roadshow - Telford International Centre
27th - 29th June 2013

Once again Aerobility are delighted to be attending the Mobility Roadshow, and in this, the shows 30th year, we will be showcasing some of the most exciting aviation opportunities available to disabled people in the UK.

Aerobility are the only charity in the UK to exclusively operate Aircraft for the benefit of the Disabled community, and this year we are adding Hot Air Ballooning to our activities.

Following trials last year, Aerobility have chosen the duo chair as the ideal apparatus to enable disabled people to fully participate in this exciting sport. The chair which can perhaps best be described as an open gondola; enables easy access for those with limited mobility. Once safely seated and strapped in, the balloon can be fully operated from the seated position. Aerobility plan to assist at least two disabled people to obtain a Ballooning Private Pilot’s Licence within the year. Visitors will be able to see and try the actual Duo Chair on the Aerobility Stand.

Not that we have neglected our core activity of flying fixed wing aircraft. Over the years many Roadshow visitors have gone on to take advantage of our subsidised trial flights. These flights enable people with varying impairments to fly our modified Piper aircraft. Visitors to the Aerobility stand will be able to operate our fully accessible flight simulator, and talk to disabled pilots about the opportunities available to would be disabled aviators.

Aerobility at the Mobility Roadshow 2012

If you intend to visit the show, do please pop over to the Aerobility stand and say hello, it’s always good to catch up with members and old friends.

Aerobility Members Day - Blackbushe Airport
13th July 2013

This will be an opportunity for all members and supporters to get together and for us to present a report from the board and share with you our vision for the future growth, development and security of Aerobility. We will also be presenting the finally accounts to those who were previous members of BDFA so we complete the transition to Aerobility. 

We will also be having a BBQ and hope to have lots of flying on the day, so make sure you keep the date free and keep an eye out for more details!

The Aviators Ball 2013 - Sofitel,  Heathrow Terminal 5
Saturday 30th November 2013

Tickets are now on sale for this year's Aviators Ball - do not miss out! The price has been frozen at £95 and the event is set to be bigger and better than ever before. Members should call Blackbushe HQ to book their tickets, with general sale available on the website. 

For more information, please visit

May 20, 2013

Youth In Aviation Reception

On Wednesday 21st May, The Air League - together with a host of other aviation organisations -  will be descending on the Houses of Parliament to highlight to politicians and industry stakeholders the social benefits of youth access to aviation and the vital connection such activities have with the future prosperity of the UK’s aerospace industry. The Air League have very kindly invited Aerobility to attend and to contribute to the event from the perspective of disability. 

The now annual ‘Youth in Aviation’ reception celebrates the achievements of the participating voluntary organisations, with the key message for parliamentarians being that all of the aviation organisations involved are committed to making aerospace available to all members of society, from all walks of life.

Commenting on the event, Baroness Anne Gibson, event sponsor said:

“It is well known that the UK aerospace industry is number one in Europe and second only to the US globally. This can only continue if there is a constant supply of highly motivated young people willing to support this thriving and diverse industry by entering the industry in all manner of roles.  The reception is a great way to celebrate the success of all of the organisations who are helping to nurture tomorrow’s aviation professionals.”

For Aerobility, the chance to be involved in this event represents a great opportunity to promote the contribution that people with disabilities can and do make to the aviation industry. With so many interested parties in attendance, we hope to spread the Aerobility message to those who care about aviation and who can help us to continue making a difference. 

The event was underpinned by the production of a Position Paper on UK Youth in Aviation entitled ‘Aviation for Everyone’ which profiles all of the aviation organisations involved in the reception. It also contains a number of key recommendations to Government. The document can be downloaded from The Air League Website: or

We look forward to the afternoon and will report back on our progress! 

May 14, 2013

A Flight To Remember

“Air is freedom”.

For Mark, who is profoundly deaf, the chance to take control of a plane was something that seemed to be an impossible dream. Whilst Mark has always held onto the ambition of becoming a commercial pilot, he had resigned himself to the fact that his inability to hear would remain a barrier to achieving this goal.

However, not one to give up, Mark found Aerobility and took the first steps towards realising some of his dreams. On a rainy Saturday in April, Mark made his way down the motorway with a very close eye on the ominous black clouds that seemed to be following him. Mark told us that “I lost my hope” of being able to fly that day, with hail, wind and rain to contend with, but on arriving at Aerobility HQ he was reassured by Mike and Brian that sunshine was just an hour away.

Mark and his family waited patiently in the cafĂ©, and although they tried not to get their hopes up Mark did say that whilst watching the other planes he wasn't sure if he was more excited or his two and half year old daughter was! Finally the weather cleared and, after a briefing from Mike, the budding pilot was all set and ready to go.

With his heart beating faster and faster, Mark tried to take in everything that Mike was showing him on the control panel and prepare himself for the flight ahead. After a smooth take off, the changeable weather made for a bit of a bumpy ride and Mark told us that he found himself asking “erm, is this normal?!”

Getting used to the controls!

After a little bit of practice and some guidance from Mike, control was handed over and Mark found that all of the information he’d been given in the briefing finally made a bit of sense! The half an hour flight was over much too fast, and Mark said that he didn't want to land because being in the air made him feel “free as a bird, with no worries on the ground.”

This amazing achievement is a testament to Mark’s determination to overcome the barriers that stood between him and flying. He thanked Aerobility for giving him a new experience, saying that he had “never felt so WOW”!

In the air at last...

If, like Mark, you would like to fly then get in touch with us. There are no barriers that cannot be overcome.  

NATS Update

As many of you will know, 2012 saw the culmination of many hours of hard work by the NATS' employees and Prospect Union staff. The amazing fundraising efforts of all involved made it possible for us to invest in a brand new Tecnam, specially adapted for use by people with disabilities.

Below is a little update from the NATS' website that is well-worth a read!

May 10, 2013

Aerobility visit to Heathrow - A Big Thank You!

This week, four lucky Aerobility members were given the opportunity to visit the Heathrow Control Tower. Andy Mercer, Aerobility volunteer and NATS air traffic controller, very kindly made this amazing opportunity possible.

Mike, Simon, Kevin, Kevin and Andy - the big smiles say it all!

The four lucky chaps successfully answered a devilishly difficult question, as set by Aerobility Quizmaster Mr Catchpoole, to win the chance to visit Heathrow. Once there, the group were given a full tour of the tower and the chance to go airside. Kevin came straight to Aerobility HQ after the tour to tell us all about it, with the viewing deck just below the tower being a definite highlight for him. The 360 degrees, panoramic view gave the guys the chance to see just about every aircraft you could hope for; the Airbus 380, 747s and 777s were just some of the planes spotted.

Our friends at BA came out to say hello!
The group had a fantastic day and would all like to extend their thanks to Andy for making it possible. A once in a lifetime experience for most, Mike told us that he'd been the envy of his friends many of whom were "green with envy"!

A perfect day for a spot of air traffic control...

For your chance to take part in events such as this, make sure your membership is up to date and keep an eye on your emails!

May 08, 2013

Disability Awareness Day 2013

Aerobility is pleased to be attending the Disability Forum's Disability Awareness Day. We've already met the Mayor and are looking forward to a busy day!

Geri and Andrea by the stall!

We've donated a trial flight to the raffle - so come down and take part for your chance to take to the skies!

A trial flight up for grabs!

You'll find us in The Malls in Basingstoke - just between Primark and Boots! 

May 07, 2013

The Air League - Youth in Aviation Day - Bicester 4th May 2013

After a damp start, hundreds turned up for the Air League ‘Youth in Aviation’ event at Bicester that was blessed with the perfect weather for the afternoon.

A bit of sunshine helped!
Well done Andy Perkins and Luke Roberts for another great event, that focused on networking amongst aviation related charities, trusts and companies with supporters including CTC Wings, RAF, Air Cadets, Oxford Air Training, Bicester airfield’s new owners, Bicester Heritage Limited, Windrushers Gliding Club, GliderFX and Aerobility.

There were rides in vintage aircraft, the gliding club flew 60 winch lessons over the day and GliderFX took a lucky 13 pilots for an aerobatic flight in the Fox, including Aerobility’s newest members Max Bond and Andy Payne.
All set and ready to go!

The thanks must go to Ian ‘Gally’ Gallacher and Paul Holdnal for getting the Fox’s CofA complete in record time for the event, and for the evening pyro display flight.

An amazing end to a brilliant day!
Aerobility members have FREE airtime in the GliderFX Fox glider, and there will be many more opportunities to experience gliding with GliderFX and Walking on Air throughout the summer.

For more information, you can look here:

And to give you a taste of the video to come, here is the film from 2012:

They've joined in the fun - will you?

May 03, 2013

A Bank Holiday Update

Hello there Aerobility!

We hope that you’re enjoying the weather on this lovely Friday afternoon. As always, we’ve been busy here at Aerobility HQ and would love to share a bit of news with you if you can spare a few minutes….

Aerobility, a marathon and a balloon….

It seems like a long time ago now, but on Sunday 20th April three Aerobility heroes got up very early to attend the Virgin London Marathon. Two of those, Andy and Oli, were taking on the 26.2 miles in support of Aerobility. They both made fantastic times, with Andy clocking 3 hours and 12 minutes, and have raised nearly £2000 between them. A big thank you from all of us here!

The third hero, our very own Brian Catchpoole, was off to fly the Aerobility flag (or balloon in this case….) Brian was at the start line for the first outing of our Breitling sponsored balloon. It was a real privilege and a great opportunity for Aerobility, providing the chance to meet lots of interested people and share in the excitement of the day.

Brian Catchpoole with Breitling Orbiter Brian Jones, without whom this would not have been possible!

The Mosquito  

High profile as ever, we have been taking part in a little bit more filming. Aerobility member and Channel 4 presenter Arthur Williams is making a documentary about the World War II fighter bomber the beautiful De Havilland Mosquito. This week, he was filming with our Warrior YY at Lasham airfield which used to be a Mosquito base during the war. The documentary is out later in the year.

An action shot!

Something Borrowed…
Due to demand at Blackbushe we have recently borrowed a PA28 from our friends at Tatenhill Aviation. During the ferry flight down to Blackbushe last Monday evening, James Brown and Brian Catchpoole captured some great shots of our Cherokee flown by Guy Westgate.

The mighty Cherokee 6!

Aero, Friedrichshafen 2013

Well the Germans have it pretty good, great beer, the best gliders in the World, great people and stunning country side, and also it appears the biggest Aero trade fair!
Mike Miller-Smith invited Brian Catchpoole, Dave Rawlins and Guy Westgate to the annual Aero trade-fair at Friedrichshafen, by invitation of Tecnam, to present the story of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony pyro flight in the Tecnam P2006.
The trade show is set across 9 giant hangars, and whilst all the big manufactures were represented, Tecnam dominated the show space, both with the number and range of aircraft on offer.

Amongst the many Tecnam trainers (including Aerobility’s new 2002PF) were 2 new aircraft unveiled at the show; a new eco 2 seat trainer, the Astrore, that comes with an iPad Mini for integration of flight planning and onboard instrumentation. Also on show was R&D Chief, Fabio Russo’s new brain child, the ‘Snap’, a single seat aerobatic aircraft, with very light construction and a similar power to weight ratio to the more established aerobatic thoroughbreds.
Our Aerobility Paralympic presentation was on Tecnam’s own mini-stage. Mike Miller Smith described the origins of the POC project and the many regulatory challenges, whilst Guy described his involvement with Pyro systems, the design of the display, flight training and testing. Dave Rawlings’s video on the big screen made him look suitably sheepish, but the biggest applause was reserved for the film of the Opening Ceremony and the fireworks. 
Mike concluded by thanking Tim Orchard, the Tecnam’s UK agent for developing such a great relationship with Aerobility and reported that the Charity’s new Tecnam 2002PF is in production, and described the unique ways it is being optimized for use with Aerobility.

A fantastic partnership!

The rest of the show was almost too huge to see in a day.

The gliding hall had the latest big winged German wonder ships from Shempp Hirth and Alexander Schleicher, along with some new technology from other manufacturers, particularly FES (Front Electric Sustainer), a collapsible electric propeller in the nose cone of a glider, offering almost no extra drag when not in use, but an hour of powered flight when you need it.

There were other glider manufacturers too, from Poland and Czech Republic, and also many vintage airframes too.

Constantly on the lookout for new ways of lifting our own MDM-1 Fox for the Aviator Ball in November… we awarded 1st prize of “Aircraft on a stick” to EXTRA, and joint second prize for an electric aircraft hanging in the roof and Alisport who had a glider on a jig to a jaunty 30 degree diving attitude.

Mr Westgate trying a couple out for size....

Away from the glider hall, the range of sporty looking glasss aircraft was quite bewildering, but the standouts were the Italian Frecce, Czech Shark and Blackshape Prime.

The range of in-cockpit Multi Functional Displays (MFD) was astonishing too, and together with ipad software, is a growth story for the industry.

There were companies offering everything from 3D synthetic vision, Mapping technology, flight planning apps and gliding software. 

Just a snippet of all  that was on show.
The four day show needs more than 8 hours to do it justice, but was worth the drive. A huge thanks goes to Mike Miller Smith for the Invitation and driving the 1300 mile round trip, and also to Dave and Brian for providing such worthy competition in the "Top Gear Challenge" race back home...  

Article Written by Guy Westgate

Tecnam Registration Competition

Given the fantastic story and the groundbreaking development of our soon to arrive Tecnam P2002JF, the feeling is we should explore getting a fun and unique registration for the aircraft.

The Aerobility team test out the Tecnam's accessibility

The Bulldog was appropriately registered as G-DISA. We ought to do some similar for the Tecnam. So, the challenge is to find an appropriate registration. Many of the obvious ones such as G-NATS and G-AERO have already gone. Get thinking and of course the winning entry gets to see their registration on the aircraft, it's just a bit of fun. The best way to search is to enter your ideas into the CAA G Info Database at and if it is not already in use then it could well be free and available. Unfortunately once it has been used previously even on a now non-existent aircraft it is still not available for reuse. Send in your ideas to

And don’t forget….

The Air League is holding a flying day at Bicester Airfield in Oxfordshire tomorrow, with gliding opportunities for all Aerobility members. Get down there and check it out!

That’s all from us!

We hope you all have a lovely bank holiday weekend. Don’t forget to come and visit us at Blackbushe Airport, we’d love to see you all!

What a sunset....
Happy Landings

The Aerobility Team