January 31, 2014

Europe's First Disabled Balloon Pilot!

A huge congratulations to Tim Ellison, who this week passed his General Flight Test in ballooning. 

One of our founders and Aerobility flyer of long standing, Tim Ellison, has been able to take advantage of an Air League and Aerobility initiative to learn to fly a balloon in Italy. This project has been able to take place thanks to the support of Boeing. His trainer, Aerobility Ambassador and celebrated balloonist Brian Jones, told us that Tim was a natural...

"Tim was an exceptional student due to his skills and currency in aeroplanes.  He had reached the required standard about half way through the training course and the last few hours were simply to build up to meet the requirement of 16 hours under instruction."

Aerobility's ballooning activities are really set to take-off this year, and we hope Tim is the first of many successful balloonists. If you would be interested in ballooning with Aerobility, please contact brian@aerobility.com for more information.

January 29, 2014

Winter Aviation Evening: Date Change!

This month's Winter Aviation Evening with special guest Captain Tim Orchard will now be held on Wednesday 19th February. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

If you would like to attend, please register your interest with Geri (geri@aerobility.com).


January 23, 2014

"Flight! Camera! Action!"

Some of you may remember a little fly-over we did in Summer 2012...? Mike Miller-Smith will be speaking about the project at the Museum of Army Flying, and below is a press release with more details..

‘Flight! Camera! Action! Episode Two; Flying Heroes; a behind the scenes look at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics.
 Free Presentation at the Museum of Army Flying

Following the sell-out success of Episode One of our Olympic series of presentations the Museum of Army Flying, in association with Aerobility and Help for Heroes, is pleased to announce a second installment focusing on the incredible story of injured servicemen in the air. The presentation will take place at the Museum on the 12th February at 7pm and is free to enjoy by all. Places are limited so please book a space through the museum website www.army.flying.com.

Well-known local Army Aviator George Bacon has, through his close connections with Aerobility and Help for Heroes, brought together a fascinating presentation which tells the incredible story of triumph over adversity. The programme, which will be in two parts, will focus upon the work that Aerobility undertook in preparing a wounded serviceman, with no previous flying experience, to open the Paralympics with a pyrotechnic aircraft at night. The second half will look more closely at the work of Help for Heroes in preparing our Paralympian serviceman for the games.  

Representing Aerobility and talking about the challenges they had to overcome will be Mike Miller-Smith the CEO of the charity and Guy Westgate of GliderFX, the mastermind behind the development of night air pyrotechnic displays in the UK. There will also be a representative from Help for Heroes giving us a fascinating insight into the road to recovery and preparation of our Paralympian ex-soldiers. We hope that representative from both the Cockpit and the Games will be present providing a chance to for you to engage with the team. 

January 20, 2014

Winter Aviation Evening: Wednesday 12th February

‘My Office at 60,000 feet’

Captain Tim Orchard describes a typical day in the life of a Concorde pilot.

Ride with him from London to New York.

Where? Aerobility HQ, Blackbushe Airport
Date? Wednesday 12th February
Time? Arrival from 7pm. Guest speaker 7.30pm start.

Tim Orchard began his flying career in 1971; almost 42 years ago. He had flown over 50 types of aircraft and is currently licences to fly Aeroplanes, Helicopters, Hot Air Balloons and Hot Air Airships.

Tim is an airtest pilot, a Display Pilot, a Flight Instructor and a Senior Examiner (of Pilots, of Flight Instructors and of other Examiners) for the Civil Aviation Authority. 

He jointly holds the Concorde World Record time for the journey from New York to London: 2hrs 52 minutes.

Tim’s formation flying experiences have included Concorde on several occasions; the Heathrow 50th Anniversary with Red Arrows and several air-to-air photography sorties.

In his career with British Airways Tim flew the Hawker-Siddeley Trident, the Concorde and the Boeing 777 as well as spending nine years as personal pilot to the BA Board in an executive aircraft.

Tim has run several businesses (including two flying schools) and for many years was Managing Director of the BA subsidiary which ran Wycombe Air Park. Tim currently represents the UK arm of Tecnam, an Italian aircraft manufacturer. He owns a couple of hot air balloons and a 1950s deHavilland Chipmunk aircraft.

To register your interest, please email geri@aerobility.com 

January 14, 2014

The Aerobility Flyers' Party 2014 - Register your interest now and spread the word!

We're very excited to be holding the first Aerobility Flyers' Party this year - it's going to be a fantastic evening of fun for Aerobility friends old and new.  

If you would like to come please register your interest ASAP with Simon Rapkin (simon@foodevents.co.uk) so that we can secure a venue that will fit everyone in! As this is a non-profit making event we cannot confirm a venue until we have an estimated number of guests, so do make sure you get in touch to avoid missing out. 

Please spread the world to all those who you think would enjoy the evening - it really is just for fun!

January 06, 2014

Winter Aviation Evenings: Wednesday 15th January

We're pleased to announce the first of the Winter Aviation Evenings, with special guest Flight Lieutenant Paul Farmer. 

Where? Aerobility HQ, Blackbushe Airport
Date? Wednesday 15th January
Time? Arrival from 7pm. Guest speaker 7.30pm start.

Paul is the 27 Sqn and Chinook Force standards officer. He has completed 7 tours of Afghanistan, is a Chinook Qualified Helicopter Instructor and was the 2012 and 2013 Chinook Display pilot.  He’ll be giving an overview of Chinook flying and some of the particularly exciting display flying so there will be plenty more to hear about and a Q&A session at the end.

If you would like to come along, please register your interest by Friday 10th January with Geri (geri@aerobility.com). Space is limited so get in early to avoid missing out!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

GASCo Safety Evening: Tuesday 14th January

GASCo will be holding a Safety Evening on Tuesday 14th January, at 19.30. The evening will be held at the Bushe Cafe, Blackbushe Airport. The evening is designed to provide an opportunity to reflect on General Aviation safety as it affects you, the people you fly with and your clubs and associations. 

All are welcome and Aerobility will be in attendance!

January 03, 2014

Aerobility Runners - The Reading Half Marathon!

Thinking of getting fit after the festive period? Why not join our team of Aerobility Runners and take part in the Reading Half Marathon? Not only will you run off those mince pies and mulled wine, you will also be raising money and having fun as part of our team!

If you'd like to run for Aerobility, please contact Geri (geri@aerobility.com) for more information. 

January 02, 2014

Aerobility Tecnam P2002 begins flight testing..

Tecnam and Aerobility announce the first flight of P2002JF equipped with disability hand controls

Today Tecnam, together with the launch-customer Aerobility (UK) is proud to announce the first flight of first factory designed CS-VLA aircraft equipped with disability hand controls.

The "code" of this major change to the standard P2002 JF platform, certified under EASA CS-VLA requirements, is "2002/141" but this simple number signifies more than one year of ergonomic studies, test pilot's overview, component design and input from the disabled community through flying charity Aerobility. The result is the first flight of first worldwide CS-VLA certified aircraft factory built with disabled hand controls installed.

“This milestone project is truly the best of engineering and the best of human spirit – giving the freedom of flight to all. It signifies an exciting new era of accessible aviation for disabled people, providing low-cost flying opportunities for a wide range of disabilities ” said Mike Miller Smith, Aerobility CEO.

Designed with a close collaboration with Aerobility pilots, this production aircraft is equipped with all the standard controls plus a central stick fully integrated into the aircraft control system, enabling the use of rudder pedals, throttle and flap controls by a disabled person with no use of their legs. The entire flight and ground controls are fully operative with the sole use of left and right arms, including braking.

"... after the first flight of this unconventional flight control system, I can easily say that, ...  I learnt how to control the aircraft by hand controls” said Marco Locatelli, Tecnam Chief Test Pilot who performed the first flight of the aircraft and, after just one hour, was perfectly able to perform lazy eights and chandelles.

Many other small changes on the aircraft have been introduced in order to make the aircraft as disabled friendly as possible with reinforcements on the leading edge, additional grab handles and increased canopy opening.

"after 8 enjoyable hard-working years at Tecnam, it is great to celebrate a unique milestone. This first flight is the result of a pleasant design challenge, a strong certification effort by the Tecnam Design Office and the result of a new friendship with Mike and the Aerobility team" said Fabio Russo, Tecnam Chief Project R&D and Product Development. 

Test flights will continue for about one month before obtaining the final approval of change by EASA, which will set another important milestone in the Tecnam effort in designing and building innovative practical flying machines.

Aerobility and Tecnam first collaborated through Tim Orchard, UK dealer for Tecnam (www.tecnamuk.com - ph. 07860 326635) working together on creating a spectacular flight over the 2012 London Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony with a P2006T equipped with specifically designed pyrotechnics and lighting. This project created a friendship with Aerobility that has resulted in the development of the disabled adapted P2002JF project.

Going solo – a student’s view by Geoff Marshall

“Going solo”! The phrase that can strike a cold sweat on any aspiring student Aviator’s forehead, especially after the cheery recaps from Instructor James as to what to do in the event of various, and hopefully unlikely, events such as an engine or radio failure, or the closure of the airfield while you are flying, or a new one for me recently (what to do if you get lost while flying in the local area). All these dyer thoughts tend to have a bit of a dampening effect on any carefree feelings that ‘going solo’ is going to be straight forward.

The first opportunity to go solo is in the circuit which is by far the scariest. Despite flying the circuit numerous times doing all the checks and radio calls, the first time you turn onto the runway to takeoff, without the comfortable knowledge that you’ve an experienced Instructor sitting next to you to help get you out of the brown stuff if all goes wrong, is scary. You have to steal your resolve with thoughts that he wouldn’t be sending you to fly solo if you weren’t up to it. The first surprise is the increase in performance you gain by not having the additional weight of the Instructor. As you open the throttle to takeoff you are soon up to 60 knots and it’s time to rotate from the runway to climb away. Despite climbing at the correct speed, you seem to be going up much faster than usual and it’s soon time to throttle back, to try and hold the circuit height halfway through the turn on to the cross wind leg. Things then seem to happen fast during the rest of the circuit and as you turn onto ‘finals’ the sight of the runway is both welcoming, insofar that you got this far and are still alive, and scary.  Get this wrong and it could be very painful. The training says get the speed and height about right then all should be OK, don’t panic, round-out to fly along the runway, close the throttle and gently sink onto it. Surprisingly to me, this is roughly what happened, though I did air on the fast side of the approach speed which, with the nice long and wide runway at Blackbushe, is not a terrible thing to have done. I then found myself barrelling down the runway while trying to keep the plane straight, steering with the hand control while groping about for the hand brake, leaning forward against the seat-belt ... all very exciting.

After several hours consolidating solo practice in the circuit, the next challenge is to go solo is in the local area. This consists of flying from your home air field off into the local area, making all the appropriate radio calls to leave and rejoin the ATZ and obtain a ‘Basic Service’ from, in my case Farnborough Radar. It was a nice day when I first went solo in the local area. After takeoff, it’s satisfying to have the opportunity to continue climbing through the circuit height, turning to cross the centre of the runway as you then fly off towards Reading. As I reached 2000’ I levelled out, concentrating on getting the course and speed right then doing the first FREDA checks. FREDA checks now seem to take on even more importance as you really don’t want have to compete the forced landing training which, so far, has only been practiced down to 500’. I then discovered when I switch the radio to the Farnborough frequency; the nice day had encouraged every man and his dog to go flying. I ended up trying to make the call with the magic “Student” call sign more than half way around my intended route. I then realised I was on my own, flying on a beautiful clear and smooth winter’s day, where you could see for miles which was very satisfying, I guess one good reason for learning to fly. After ‘not getting lost’, the homely sight of Blackbushe requires the handover radio calls while crossing the upwind end of the runway and descending to 800’ (circuit height) to rejoin the circuit pattern and then to land.

What I’m now working towards is the first solo navigation flight which consists of planning and then flying away from the local area making more radio calls and (again) ideally not getting lost in the process. The planning requires you to dredge out from the dark and murky corners of one’s memory, the navigation theory which was sweated so hard to pass last year, to plan the route.

Once this milestone is complete you then got to look forward to your first solo land away which requires getting out of the aeroplane at a different airfield, paying the landing fees, to then get back in, to fly home, not a trivial exercise for a wheelchair bound complete paraplegic.

After all this, if you are not bankrupt, all you have to do is pass the navigation and flying skills tests, the radio practical and medical tests, then you can, after paying the due fee, apply and hopefully receive a licence, happy days if the wife hasn’t asked for a divorce on the grounds of desertion for a new mistress that is flying!