November 16, 2013

Aerobility: Ballooning Update

Last Friday, thanks to the generosity of Gerald Bartram, Aerobility took delivery of its first Hot Air Balloon. This top end, or envelope, is an Ultramagic H-77, with a capacity of 77,000 cu ft. registered G-BXPT. Before donating to Aerobility, Gerald had rotation vents fitted, which will make the Balloon ideal for training would be balloon pilots using the ‘duo chair’ system.

We hope to commence training in the spring, but before this, we will need to finance and purchase the duo chair and appropriate insurance. Our immediate fundraising effort will be for an estimated £4,000. If anyone with an interest in ballooning for disabled people would like to get involved in fundraising for this exciting project, please contact Operation Manager Brian Catchpoole at Blackbushe and between us we can make this a reality.

November 15, 2013

BBC Children In Need: Be A Hero

Today the nation is celebrating the long-standing BBC Children in Need campaign with office fancy dress competitions, bake sales and every sort of sponsored event you could imagine. This day of fun is loved by many, and gives us all the chance to contribute to one of the most successful fundraising campaigns in the UK. It may seem that the money raised goes to projects you do not come across or hear about again, but we'd like to let you know about one Children in Need project that is a little bit closer to home.

Our ongoing Aviation Education Programme is in it's first year and is entirely funded by the BBC's Children in Need. The programme gives six young people with disabilities a year of aviation education sessions, with topics including Airfield Operations, Fire and Rescue and Air Traffic Control. The Aviation Education Programme is designed to teach the young people about the many areas of aviation, but also to give transferable skills that can be taken into working life and further education.

For our more avid blog followers, you may already have seen the update we posted on the Introduction Session. Since then, we have completed initial sessions in our first topics - Airfield Operations and Air Traffic Control. The sessions were a great success and Tony, one of our volunteers, has written a short report below:

"Here we are again with a summary of the first modular sessions, which took place on 29th. October and 1st. November. The students were divided into two groups of three, and each group attended for a full day to cover the basics of Airfield Operations and Air Traffic Control.

The sessions were led by volunteer Steve, with others on hand to provide one-to-one assistance to the students in carrying out the various activities involved. The morning session on Airfield Operations started with an initial evaluation of the students' current level of understanding of why airfields are needed, why people fly, what facilities are essential for the operation of a small private airfield, and what additional facilities would help to enhance the users' safety and comfort.

Following their input, which revealed a pleasing amount of basic knowledge among the groups, a short video was shown of a light aircraft leaving and arriving at a simple grass airfield to visually reinforce the basic requirements.

The session continued with student participation in a practical exercise to create a table-top airfield using a green cloth as the field, with various items added to provide topographical features, facilities and obstacles.

The exercise included coverage of airfield location, runway orientation and numbering in accordance with local topography and prevailing winds, and the requirements for safe approach and departure flight paths beyond the airfield boundaries.

Both groups proved to be enthusiastic participants in the exercise, and were able to contribute well.

There followed an exercise in which the students were asked to match four airfield diagrams with their corresponding aerial photographs, and all completed this without any problem.

 During the ensuing break for lunch, the PA28 simulator was put to good use by all!

The afternoon sessions covered the basics of Air Traffic Control, with Steve presenting on the Tuesday, and Andy on the Friday.

The session started with an explanation of why ATC is required, and continued with a listening exercise involving actual communication between pilots and tower at Wycombe Air Park, after which the students were invited to comment on the content and the techniques employed.

They were then introduced to the concept of the phonetic alphabet, and spent a few minutes practising with it by spelling their names and other familiar words.

The major part of the session involved a practical exercise in which the students took turns in playing the roles of pilot, tower controller and approach controller to act out a prepared script of ATC communication.

Two-way hand-held radios were used, and to add realism, the “pilot” was positioned in the simulator, with the “controllers” remaining in the classroom so that there was no visual aid to communication.

Given that this was their first exposure to the subject all acquitted themselves very well, and entered into the spirit of the exercise to the extent that they didn't want to stop at the end of the exercise!

All the students, although quite tired by the end of it, maintained their enthusiasm for the course throughout, and it was felt by the volunteer team that the sessions had definitely achieved the desired objectives."

This programme would not take place without the BBC Children In Need so please do consider supporting the campaign if you can. Thank you!