September 30, 2013

Aerobility: Welcoming Autumn

Hello Aerobility Friends!

Have you been flying today? As our instructors take a rare day off, our fleet has stayed grounded and we’ve had a bit of time to reflect on the busy month that was September. With the summer weather hanging on just a little bit longer, there’s been a lot of flying and a lot of fun!

Where to start then? Let’s try the beginning and see how we get on…

Penningtons Solicitors LLP, Family Flying Day

On the 7th September we were very pleased to welcome Penningtons Solicitors LLP to Blackbushe for a day of flying and family fun. Penningtons’ Court of Protection and Private Client team work with individuals with a wide range of disabilities, advising in the provision of wills, assisting with the use of lasting powers of attorney and setting up personal injury trusts amongst other disability related services. This year, Penningtons decided to spend their annual Family Day here at Blackbushe with Aerobility so that their clients would have the opportunity to experience the magic of flight.

A busy day!

First flight for one young man.

On the day, the entire Aerobility fleet was utilised to ensure that as many people as possible were able to take part. For the friends and family that also joined us, the simulator was a great hit and gave everyone a chance to try out their landings! With a face painter and magician, model making fun and lots of lovely food to try it was most definitely a day of family fun.

Two new sets of wings!

The hard-work of the Aerobility volunteer team and the instructors made it all possible, with Penningtons’ partner Julie Burton expressing her “warmest thanks and appreciation to each of you for helping make Saturday such a lovely and successful day. It was a fun and happy time for everyone and Aerobility made it possible by being so amazingly generous with their volunteer time.”

The Aerobility team in briefing..

The Penningtons team had a great day!

With smile on faces saying it all, we think we can confidently report that the day was a success. One parent contacted us to tell us how much fun her adult son had on the day, saying: “David has not stopped telling everyone he meets how he flew an aircraft and used a simulator, it is a memory that will last for his and our lives.”

We hope Penningtons will be returning for another day next year!

Charity Partnerships

This month we are very pleased to have welcomed two fantastic charities, The British Polio Fellowship and Leonard Cheshire Disability, to Aerobility HQ at Blackbushe Airport. We love sharing our stories with other charities and enjoy the friendly sharing culture that the charity sector is so famous for!

The British Polio Fellowship is dedicated to helping, supporting and empowering approximately 120, 000 people in the UK living with the effects of Polio and Post-Polio Syndrome. They are a brilliant organisation and their great new website has lots more information for those that are interested . A big thank you to Aerobility member Gerald Hackemer for arranging the meeting with the British Polio Fellowship management team.

Leonard Cheshire Disability is one of the UK’s leading disability charities. We were lucky enough to meet their inspirational Chief Executive, Claire Pelham, at the government’s recent ‘Disability Confident’ conference. Claire was very keen to learn more about us and build a relationship between our two organisations. A visit from a senior manager last week was a brilliant opportunity for us to learn more, and we’re looking forward to working together further in the future.

We also attended the UK’s first Fundraising Camp in Oxford. This is an innovative new idea from UK Fundraising to bring together fundraisers and facilitate conversation between them. Instead of listening to speakers and nodding off in the back row, the delegates set the agenda and delivered the sessions. It was a great day and we learnt a lot from our fundraising colleagues.

The Jack and Ada Beattie Foundation

Last weekend, Aerobility supporters ‘The Beattie Foundation’ held their annual Gala dinner at Sywell Aerodrome in a campaign to raise the funds needed to help return our D-Day Veterans to the famous Normandy beaches for the formal commemoration of D-Day in 2014. Aerobility Patron, Buzz Aldrin, was the Beattie Foundation’s Guest of Honour and Aerobility were very pleased to be invited to attend.

The Beattie Foundation's motto – “knowing that someone is fighting your corner is half the battle won” – has guided the organisation in its first years. Trevor Beattie, the organisation’s founder, has certainly been fighting in Aerobility’s corner and is a long-standing personal supporter and friend.

The evening was a great success and made all the more special for Aerobility instructor, Peter Norris, and student, Karl Hinnet, as they celebrated Karl’s first solo together! Keep an eye on the blog for the story of Karl’s solo flight and his incredible progress.

A well deserved beer!

The 15th Annual British Aviation Group Dinner

The British Aviation Group, or BAG as it is more commonly referred to, has been a great supporter of Aerobility over the past few years. Every year, BAG raises money at its annual dinner which is a much sought-after and sold out event.

Aerobility with some of the very supportive BAG Members
Aerobility Chairman, Shona Bowman; Vice Chairman, Jon Windover; and Service Development Coordinator, Geri Burton attended the dinner in Whitehall. Shona’s excellent, heartfelt speech was a highlight of the evening and the BAG members were very generous with their donations, raising over £2000.

We would like to say a very big thank you to BAG for their continued support.

Helitech International

You may recall that our neighbours at Blackbushe, PremiAir, have been very generous with their support and chosen Aerobility as their Charity of the Year. As part of their ongoing commitment to the charity, PremiAir very kindly hosted us at the Helitech exhibition at the Excel Centre in London.

Proud partners.

The event was a great promotional tool for us and gave us the opportunity to show the rotorcraft world what we get up to. Perhaps we should think of adding a helicopter next?!

The Bulldog: Back Again

This weekend, Aerobility Ambassador, Guy Westgate, accompanied Martin Delaney on his auction prize flight from the 2012 Aviators Ball in our old Bulldog. Martin flew Bulldogs in the USA over 20 years ago, but hadn't forgotten much, putting the venerable G-DISA through loops, rolls and stall turns. 

Martin with the Bulldog.

Guy with Martin and G-DISA.

A very big thank you to Ian Whiting for donating the use of his aeroplane for the flight. If you would like to donate a prize for this year’s Aviators Ball then get in touch!

The 2013 Aviators Ball!

That leads us nicely on to this year’s Aviators Ball doesn’t it? We are delighted to be able to announce that outstanding Aerobility supporter, NATS, will again be demonstrating their dedication the charity by sponsoring the Aviators Ball. Richard Deakin, NATS Chief Executive, told us that “NATS is proud to sponsor the Aviators Ball and to be a part of Aerobility’s drive to bring excitement and support to disabled people through exploring what they can do in the air and the empowerment that gives them.”

The Ball is going to be bigger and better than ever before, and tickets are quite literally flying off the shelves… There are a limited number of tickets so please do buy yours now to avoid disappointment. Keep an eye on the blog as we disclose the world-class entertainment and unmissable auction prizes that will be on offer on the night.

An evening of aviation glitz and glamour not to be missed...

There is more information on the website

Over and Out….

As always, thank you for reading and supporting Aerobility! Don’t forget to check the blog regularly for more updates. If you would like to include a story or photo of your aviation experiences on the blog, please email

Happy Landings

The Aerobility Team

September 23, 2013

Michael - Flying High at Aerobility

Recent FSDP Scholar, Michael Holden, recently spent three weeks with us at Aerobility. Here, he shares his story:

"I’m sure that I am not alone in the feeling of being overwhelmed at being selected to receive a scholarship from FSDP in 2013 and those that have gone before. My whole family were so very excited at the prospect and the opportunity that had been afforded me.

It became real at the presentation day, when we were all invited to attend RIAT and what was special was the feeling that Jennifer and the children were included and welcomed warmly on that memorable day.

I was to undertake my scholarship with Aerobility at Blackbushe Airport in the South East of England and this began for me on the 19th August 2013. I opted to take my car, which with the hand controls fitted gave me much more independence than traveling by other means and using public transport.

Aerobility were very welcoming and discussed my planned flying over the coming weeks, giving me a sense of ease and structure to the training ahead. I used just under 17 hours of my flying time, with flying taking place most days except on Sundays and the Bank Holiday weekend. The Bank Holiday was mainly due to poor weather on the Saturday as flying had been scheduled and the unavailability of flying on the Monday itself. However, these times were made good use of by way of learning for the examinations that I took. It also by co-incidence allowed me time to catch up with a few present and former scholars who were close by in terms of driving and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed their company and catching up with their own progress and sharing my experiences. Susie and Rosemary, kindly came to visit me during my training, which was a nice surprise.

The training at Aerobility was always thorough with a pre-flight briefing before every lesson and debrief following. Day by day I was learning something new and what at first seemed insurmountable soon became a thing of the past. James was my main instructor and we struck up a friendship and understanding that made my experience better for it. He was always conscious that the training never became too tiring and was very keen that I took as many exams as possible as he felt I had the aptitude for it. James was also instrumental in helping me with this process, constantly asking probing questions to ensure I was keeping up-to-date with the relevant subject. I managed to complete and pass 3 exams and prepared for a fourth, although time ran out and I wasn’t able to complete this – I have since arranged to take it at my local airfield.

A journalist and photographer also came to visit me so that they could prepare an article for the Motor Neurone Disease Magazine, this is the disease which led to my disability. This was arranged by Julie and should be published towards the end of September. My medical flight test was done on the same day and Dr Liz Fox very kindly sorted out the necessary paperwork so that I could begin my circuit training. In the final week I spent two days with a different instructor who went through the rudiments of circuit flying and succeeded in getting me to a good level. The following day I had a visit from Julie who was keen to know how I was getting on and was interested to know about my experiences both at Aerobility and in the Travelodge; that same afternoon James concentrated on the landing stage of the circuit before telling me he had every confidence that I was more than capable of flying solo. On Thursday 5th September 2013 I made my very first call to Blackbushe Information reporting that Student Golf- Bravo Sierra Yanky Yanky was ready for departure. I will never forget the mixture of emotions from the moment I accelerated along the runway for take-off to the tear of joy that I shed as I taxied back to Aerobility after I had landed. Everyone at Aerobility were waiting to greet me, all with beaming faces, cameras and outstretched hands of congratulations.

The day after the weather was inclement again and flying wasn’t possible, however Mike, CEO of Aerobility asked if I would like to go to an open day at Goodwood Airfield being organised for disabled military personnel, by a charity known as Battle Back. I had a great experience here telling dozens of service personnel of my experience of flying thanks to FSDP and Aerobility. I encouraged all of them to make contact with both if they had an interest in flying themselves.

On my final day I volunteered in an open day at Aerobility who were taking a group of disabled children on flying experiences. It was so heart-warming to share in their enjoyment and thrill at flying and all of the parents were keen to hear of my experiences of FSDP and the journey I had been on. It gave me so much pleasure to wave the flag for the charity on both occasions.

I would also like to mention the friendships that I made whilst at Aerobility, other volunteers who were regulars at the training school. I was entertained in the evening by other flying instructors and former commercial pilots and NATS personnel. I received invitations to visit NATS Swanick and Heathrow, as well as an invitation to go flying in Germany. Sue, who runs the office at Aerobility was particularly friendly and ensured I was where I ought to be at every moment of the day. All of them took me for a farewell drink and I was interviewed on camera about my experiences.

The three weeks I spent with Aerobility will never be forgotten and have certainly developed lasting friendships and opened up doors for new experiences, both at home and abroad. I cannot express adequately enough in words my thanks to FSDP and everyone involved for the path I have rolled during those three amazing weeks. Suffice to say that I have already made plans to continue the training in a hope to complete what FSDP started, by way of showing appreciation for the finance they invested in me. I would also like to take up any opportunity I may, which would further the cause of FSDP and help them grow stronger and so by allow others to enjoy the same exhilarating feelings which have been my privilege to experience during my FSDP Scholarship 2013."

It was a pleasure to welcome Michael into the Aerobility family! We hope to see him again soon!

Michael's blog can also be found at
Photographs used with thanks to AntonyoxleyPhotography.

September 20, 2013

Kimpton School - Aerobility Day: Saturday 28th September

Next Saturday 28th September, Aerobility are very pleased to be visiting Kimpton Primary School near Thruxton Airfield. Longstanding Aerobility supporter and volunteer, Mick, has organised the day and has been working hard to make sure it will be a success.

The mobile simulator in action earlier this year.
With our mobile simulator and model making kits, as well as a visit from the Army Air Corps, there will be fun for all the family! If you would like to volunteer at the event, please contact Geri ( for more details. All are welcome to come along and support from 11.00am.

September 17, 2013

Aerobility Ballooning, Tedworth House: 20th, 21st and 22nd September

An exciting opportunity for any budding balloonists! There are a couple of spaces left for a weekend of ballooning at Tedworth House, this Friday 20th September to Sunday 22nd September.

As previously, the weekend will be a mix of actual flying opportunities and theoretical training. If the weather is kind to us, we will meet Friday evening 20th September and fly Saturday morning and evening and finally on Sunday morning. The cost of the weekend will vary, but as a guide you should expect to budget £25 per night for accommodation and £60 per hour for flying. 

If all goes well, we intend to invite two participants to travel out to Italy or France for a rigorous period of training in October or November. Again costs have yet to be firmed up, but we will be looking for the two chosen to be highly motivated and ready to do their best to complete the training requirements for a PPL(B). This will be a unique opportunity for disabled people to become fully involved in Ballooning.

If you are interested in joining us at Tedworth on 20th September please get in touch with Brian Catchpoole, by email at or telephone on 0 303 303 1230 for more information.

September 06, 2013

Volunteer Get Together - Tuesday 10th September


We will be having a get together next Tuesday 10th September, at 6.30pm. After all the hard work you put in, we thought it would be nice to unwind and have an enjoyable evening out. 

If you have ever volunteered for Aerobility, currently volunteer for Aerobility, or think you might like to volunteer for Aerobility then please feel free to come along - the more the merrier! Contact Geri ( for more details. 

We hope to see you soon!

September 04, 2013

2013 Aerobility Raffle: The Winners

The 2013 Aerobility Raffle was drawn on Sunday 1st September at the LAA Rally under the watchful eyes of independent witnesses from the LAA, Flyer and AFE.

We are in the processing of contacting all of the lucky winners, and will be publishing the results here in the next few days so watch this space!

September 02, 2013

August – Flying, Flying and More Flying

August has been another busy month at Aerobility, with flying to do or flying to watch or flying to talk about from across the Atlantic, past Blackbushe, over Tatenhill and into Europe. We’ve been busy on the ground too, expanding our services and expanding our building! Here’s an update for you on just some of the things we got up to:

Flying Day Fun

We’ve enjoyed two great flying days in August, one at Elstree Aerodrome and one here at Blackbushe. A few weeks ago, Aerobility instructors James, Peter and Mike, with support from volunteer Roger, took an aircraft each up to Elstree to provide a day of flying for disability charity Guideposts Trust. Guideposts work with people who have mental health issues, dementia, learning disabilities and physical impairments and provide support and care to ensure that everyone can lead independent lives. Aerobility’s relationship with Guideposts is a long and successful one – we met over 7 years ago at an airshow and have been collaborating to provide an annual flying day ever since.
Guideposts Trust Flying Day 2013

Aerobility member and long-time supporter, Simon Rapkin, is a key success factor in the continuing success of our relationship with Guideposts. He was on-hand to ensure that the day ran smoothly and that fun was had by all. His inventive aviation quiz added a touch of competition and proved challenging for certain members of the Aerobility team….

A successful flight!

With over twenty flights completed in one very busy day, there were plenty of smiles around to show how much fun was had by all. We’d like to say a very big thank you to Guideposts, Simon and the team at Elstree for making us so welcome. We’re looking forward to next year already!

The Aerobility Team

This week, we were also very pleased to be visited for the second time by a group from the organisation Sportability. After a successful day of flying earlier this summer, Sportability decided it was worth making a second trip! Once the early morning fog had cleared away, another twelve trial flights were completed from Aerobility HQ at Blackbushe. We received some lovely feedback from those who flew, including these sentiments:

“A very BIG THANK YOU… I had the pleasure of flying a plane with James today… What a brilliant experience & a great day with friendly helpful staff”

We hope to continue building this relationship with Sportability and look forward to their next visit!

Overseas Adventures

This month, we managed to show our faces at not one but two international airshows. In a very rare escape from the office, CEO Mike made everyone jealous by attending the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. He was joined there by Aerobility Chairman Shona, and they have come home with lots of amazing aviation stories. A few photos below for you – let’s start planning an official Aerobility trip for 2014?!

Just a few aircraft to look at...

Nothing by half in America.

Aerobility also took a delegation to Gruyere for Handiflight 2013 – the 5th International Meeting of Disabled Pilots. CFI James and member Barry set off for Switzerland in the Cherokee Six on a quiet Sunday morning, with a quick stop off at Troyes in central France. As always, it was a fantastic few days and there are some amazing photos and videos below for you to have a look at. Keep an eye out for a full write-up in the next edition of the magazine.

A great view from the bar!

The Cherokee showing how diverse it is!

On The Ground

Not only have we had a busy summer up in the air, there’s also been a lot of activity happening on the ground! Over July and August we introduced over 50 young people to the possibilities of aviation through our new Aviation Experience sessions. With the support of a great team of volunteers, we have successfully been able to complete this busy summer programme that has seen groups of young people from organisations such as Challengers, halow and Enable Ability taking part.
Concentrating on getting those models just right!

The Aviation Experience sessions give young people with learning and physical disabilities the opportunity to engage with aviation. Using simple models, the simulator and our aircraft we are able to explain the basic principles of flight, give everyone the chance to try out their skills in the simulator and then get up close with the real thing. We look forward to more Aviation Experiences in the future!

We have also recently been accepted for corporate membership of the ‘Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’ (AOPA), which is great news and an illustration of our continued development. We look forward to supporting AOPA in its work for the aviation community.

So as you can see, we’re successfully expanding our services and widening our networks and this has resulted in Aerobility HQ becoming a bit of a squeeze! With students revising Air Law in the kitchen and pop-up desks appearing in any available corner we had to face up to the fact that our building was not quite big enough anymore…
Early morning arrival!

After a long search for a suitable unit, we were all very excited when our new extension arrived on the back of a lorry very early one Thursday morning! The extension was attached in record time and is now painted, carpeted and looking lovely. We’ll be filling it with donated furniture and lots of activity over the next few weeks, so do come and have a look if you’re passing!

The extension.

Upcoming Events: Dates for the Diary!

Simulator Sessions: On Tuesday 10th September we have a volunteer instructor operating the simulator for a day at Blackbushe. If you would like to book some time in the simulator please get in touch with the office at Blackbushe. A good chance to practise those circuits….

The Duxford Airshow: A few members have told us that they will be going along to the Duxford Airshow this Sunday (8th September) – if you were thinking of going along and would like to meet up with other Aerobility faithful, let us know and we can put you in touch!

Air First and Blackbushe Airport Family Fun Day: If you don’t fancy Duxford but would like your aviation fix this weekend, then come along to Blackbushe on Sunday. Air First are holding a family fun day and there’s lots of exciting activities to get involved in!

That’s all for now! If you have any stories or photos that you would like to share, remember to email them to and we will include them in the blog! If you are attending events or airshows, and would like to meet up with other Aerobility members who might be going along, then let us know and we can put you in touch!

Happy Landings

The Aerobility Team