April 29, 2016

Peter Brown

Peter Brown's long standing connection with Blackbushe Airport continues with his forum, "Blackbushe Airport, The One-Stop Forum", and launching  the current Blackbushe Air Day project. 

A founder member of two of the early Blackbushe based flying clubs in the 1960's, as a teenager Peter spent part of his weekends washing club aircraft in exchange for free flying lessons.
Interviewed a number of times on local radio in connection with his events , Peter has also had numerous letters printed in the local and international press supporting Blackbushe and the value of an airfield in its location.

In the 1970's he ran two large air shows at Blackbushe and was Public Relations Officer for the then Blackbushe Airport Users' Association. 

The "Great Blackbushe Aviators' Weekends" were also his creations, as were the 1992 50th Anniversary celebrations of Blackbushe Airport.  Most recently his sign "The Airlines of  Blackbushe Airport" was unveiled adjacent to the main Terminal Building. The ceremony was performed by Harold Bamberg, Founder and Chairman of Eagle Airways - a major British independent airline founded at Blackbushe.

The 2016 Blackbushe Air Day is the most recent project Peter has instigated, and he is optimistic of being closely involved in future events such as The Blackbushe 75th Anniversary in 2017.

Peter is a great friend and supporter of all things Blackbushe, including Aerobility, so we are delighted to be involved in delivering his Blackbushe Air Day vision. In return, all proceeds raised on the day are kindly being donated to Aerobility.

Please check our Peter's forum for the latest airfield news, along with wonderful photos and anecdotes, both past and present http://blackbusheairport.proboards.com/post/4151

Naidex 2016

Aerobility had an excellent time at this Naidex16!

We were delighted to have over 30 simulator flights enjoyed by visitors - one young visitor said, "I never thought I would ever meet a pilot who used a wheelchair!"

Many old friends to caught up with and many new connections made - exactly what the event is all about.

Thank you for having us Naidex - see you next year.

April 28, 2016

AEP Airfield Operations

This week we looked at Airfield Operations and looked in particular at Heathrow.

The group looked at the history of Heathrow right from the days when it was just a field to the present day.  It was fascinating watching an old black and white film from 1949!

The group looked at facts and figures about Heathrow. For example in it's early days Heathrow had 400,000 passengers per year - now? It's a staggering 73,400,000 per year!!!

The group then worked in pairs.  They had to put the steps of a typical check-in and flight in order.  For example, when to show a boarding card, when to pass through security or when to check-in the cases.  This was then followed by another short film about the route a passengers luggage takes through the airport to the right plane.  It was very interesting especially when you consider that the airport handles nearly 1.5 tonnes of luggage a year!!

April 27, 2016

Rotary Club Crowthorne and Sandhurst

Last night, Aerobility were delighted to receive a donation from the Rotary Club of Crowthorne and Sandhurst, following their recent fundraising event.

The Rotary's continued support of Aerobility means the world to us.

This donation will allow us to bring the gift of flight to four new beneficiaries.

A huge thank you from everyone at Aerobility.

Presented by Rotary Club of Crowthorne and Sandhurst  President, Martin Spooner to Aerobility Fundraising Officer, Laura Miles. 

April 25, 2016

Our Flyers - Paul Spanner is a remarkable individual and his story demonstrates how learning to fly can benefit all aspects of your life whatever challenges you are facing

Paul served with the Royal Marines for just over 27 years and was medically discharged in November 2015 as a result of a near fatal break to his neck from riding for the Royal Navy Royal Marines Cycling team.

Paul technically died twice by the side of the road before being stabilised.  His injuries included a fractured skull and 14 fractured vertebrae to the neck and back as well as breaks to his clavicle, upper ribs, right hand and wrist.  Paul’s recovery was quite remarkable, walking within three days of surgery and riding a bike (albeit tentatively) nine weeks after the accident.   

However, there were and remain underlying issues for Paul.  For example, the spring in his spine which is critical to his ability to lead a normal life has microns of clearance between his vertebrae and central cortex.  The implant can touch at times leading to bouts of partial paralysis or severe impairment and numbness of his limbs.

Subsequently, Paul losing consciousness whilst at his desk was the beginning of a much longer and more difficult recovery programme as he lost control of his neuro-linguistic pathway and the ability to coordinate or contemplate many simple cerebral tasks. 

Paul found that the MSc he was undertaking in Leadership and Business Management became too difficult for him along with most tasks other than riding a bike or going for a walk.

Through specialist treatment he began the slow process of rebuilding his cognitive reasoning and abilities to order thought and speech.  His recovery from brain injury was reasonable but plateaued off.  Paul found knowing what he had been capable of and where he now found himself very frustrating and this placed a burden on many relationships; his marriage failed and he realised for the first time that his current career would never resume in any meaningful way.

During this dark period Paul joined the Team GB ParaOlympic development cycling squad through a Help for Heroes connection.  Paul also began skiing again and joined the Armed Forces Para Snowsport team. 

In the background of all of his cycling and skiing achievements Aerobility has been a critical enabler in Paul’s recovery.  Paul has completed 12 hours of instructed flying with Aerobility since May 2015 through 12 lessons of 45 – 90 minutes.  He has also completed many hours of home study.

Paul’s Neurosurgeons and Cognitive Therapists noticed a significant change in his responses concurrent with his starting to learn to fly with Aerobility.  Learning the complex and multi-faceted skill of flying which relies on coordinated physical and mental memory skills enabled Paul to also manage other cognitive tasks and Paul found that he was able to complete his MSc and progressively his speech returned to a near normal state with minimal stammer or hesitation.  Paul’s cognitive and cerebral skills are now assessed as being within the top 2% of the country’s population.  Paul is now seizing every opportunity coming his way.  He has now applied for a funded PhD place and has a job interview coming up with an organisation who have been particularly impressed with his recovery journey, his cycling and flying skills.

Paul says ‘I have always been a very confident person but through the art of learning to fly with Aerobility I have gained confidence in new areas and flying has increased my well being and enjoyment of life.  Flying has tested my analytical skills that had become dormant through injury and I have gained many insights into how I process information.  Not easily frightened, I enjoy how flying gives me that adrenaline boost that makes me feel alive especially when landing a plane. I get a focus and perspective in the air that you don’t get on the ground.  I find flying the perfect combination of relaxation and mental stimulation.’

In 2016 Paul aims to complete his Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL) and become a Volunteer Motivational Speaker for Aerobility.  His long term aim is to become an Instructor and teach people with disabilities to fly.  ‘I feel this will complete the cycle.’

Paul is also an Ambassador and motivational speaker for disabled sports specifically cycling and skiing.    

April 22, 2016

Come along to the Aerobility Aviation Education Programme Open Mornings

Do you know or are you a 14-19 year old with a disability that has a great interest in Aviation? 

Then why not book a place on one of Aerobility's Aviation Education Programme Open Mornings to find out more about how to secure your place on our ten month course starting this September. 

Open Days - Saturday 30th April or Saturday 28th May 2016 
10am – 12.00pm

Our course is funded by Children in Need, so there is no cost to students.

The course is split into 5 modules, How we fly, Airport Operations, Fire and Rescue, Engineering and Air Traffic Control.

Our students would be asked to attend 5 x 2 hour courses per term on a Saturday morning at Aerobility's HQ at Blackbushe Airport.

It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the world of aviation, meet new friends and have some fun!

We finish with a Celebration Day at the end of the course in July 2017.

Contact nicola@aerobility.com to book your place.

April 21, 2016

British Gas Volunteer Day

You’ll already have seen the tweets, Facebook or Instagram posts, but we felt the first-class volunteer day with British Gas yesterday deserved a further mention.

After an introduction to Aerobility from Chief Exec Mike Miller-Smith and Laura Miles, Fundraising Officer, the team of six were ready to get stuck in – and there was plenty to do!

The team split in two to tackle the first tasks of the day, painting our recently donated wheelchair accessible picnic benches and the severely weathered concrete bollards surrounding the building. We all know first impressions count and displaying both a professional and welcoming appearance is really important to us. The difference was astounding!

The windy conditions got the better of us, so we agreed with the team it was better to give the spray painted logos a miss, but the stencils Louise made were excellent and will definitely be deployed when the time is right.

Next on the agenda was tackling the Aerobility Marquee, which was in need of an inspection after a busy summer in 2015. We were delighted to hear from the team that only one pole requires replacement and better yet, a passer-by offered to donate us another!

In readiness for Naidex2016, we also needed some help to load the Aerobility trailer with our mobile simulator – a crucial part of demonstrating the charity’s capabilities as well as winning the hearts and minds of potential donors and beneficiaries.

Once all of that was complete, we wanted to thank the team with a flight experience of their own on our fixed simulator.

The day was a huge success all round. We are sincerely grateful to British Gas for their teams’ time and effort. It was an absolute pleasure to meet you and we hope to work with you again soon. Thank you!
Left to right - Andy Lovegrove, Alex Coward, Darren Green, Louise Evans, Dave Carter, Bill Thompson

April 18, 2016

Opportunity to fly YAK on Tuesday 10th May 2016

YAK Experience Flight Date Announced

On Tuesday 10th May 2016 Aerobility are offering flights in our YAK.

To book your place or for more information please contact Brian Catchpoole Email brian@aerobility.com Tel +44 (0) 303 303 1230.

The cost for an Introductory Flight is £100 for 20 minutes.  We will need details of your disability for our risk assessment and to ensure you receive the support you need.

Our Flyers - Mark's life has been transformed through finally fulfilling his childhood dream of learning to fly

Mark with Aerobility Instructor Annalise

As a child Mark always wanted to fly but was unable to become an Army Helicopter Pilot due to the lack of educational support he received during his time in the care system.

Mark was passionate about serving in the Armed Forces so became an Infantryman serving for 6 years he then served in Army Intelligence  including tours in Northern Ireland and Falkland Islands.

Between 1988 and 1989 he was medically discharged with knee damage and degenerative spinal disease caused by heavy lifting and other activities linked with his role.

Mark retrained and had a very successful career in Social Work with young people with learning disabilities.

6 years ago Mark was paralysed from the waist down with two collapsed vertebrae.  It took Mark a year to walk again and he needed 4 major spine operations.  Although the surgery was successful he has complications including Intermittent Paralysis (up to 4-5 times / day) and severe pain.  Despite a very supportive Employer this led to Mark being unable to work for Health and Safety reasons.  Mark had always been very active but also had to stop his marathon running and white water and sea kayaking Coaching.

During this challenging time Mark's wife remembered his passion as a child for flying and bought him a trial flying lesson with Aerobility in our specially adapted plane where Mark can switch to hand controls if needed.  Mark enjoyed the lesson so much he came back for 4 more lessons and successfully applied for a £2,500 grant from Help for Heroes towards his lessons. 

Wearing his ‘I fly planes – scary isn’t it’ tee-shirt Mark says ‘during the week I look forward to Fridays and my flying lesson.  When I have had a bad week and been in a lot of pain just sitting in the aeroplane makes my day.  For the first time I have control over something; it’s just me with no medical professionals telling what I can and can't do.  It has been a massive lift to my self-esteem and mental health.  When I am flying I feel released from all my problems.  I know if I am having a bad week that I can always book an additional lesson.  If it wasn’t for Aerobility and Help for Heroes I don’t know how my wife and I would cope.’

Mark has now completed 14 hours of flying over 14 lessons and is working to overcome health and safety restrictions so that he can fly solo, gain his commercial pilot rating and become an Instructor teaching people with learning disabilities and physical disabilities to fly. ‘Because I put my family through so much the thought of flying my wife and three children down to see my family in Sandown, Isle of Wight is really motivating me to achieve my Private Pilot’s License (PPL).'

April 15, 2016

Yak52 - News alert!

Yesterday we installed the footrest which securely fixes the legs of somebody with a lower limb impairment to the aircraft. This is a safety measure we had planned to supplement the hand-controls, to ensure that a leg does not inadvertently interact with the aircraft controls during manoeuvres. 

If you are interested in flying our glorious Yak, please get in touch. 

Tel - 0303 303 1230

April 12, 2016

Don't forget, Aerobility Volunteers receive a discount on merchandise.

To recognise and thank you for all your support as a member of the Aerobility family. We hope you wear our logo with pride, as we are certainly proud to have you!

Biggest savings:

Polo shirts cost our Volunteers £13 instead of £19.95

Zipped jackets cost our Volunteers £25 instead of £32

Peaked caps cost our Volunteers £8 instead of £10

If you are interested in purchasing Aerobility merchandise please contact us
Tel 0303 303 1230 Email info@aerobility.com and we will be happy to check we have what you're looking for in stock. 

April 11, 2016

Love to be flown in a Tiger Moth? Register your interest here:

Aerobility to provide passenger flights in a Tiger Moth this summer. 

The de Havilland Tiger Moth was designed in the 1930’s and was the RAF’s standard trainer at this time. Many a student pilot who learnt to fly in this aircraft went on to fly the iconic aircraft of the second world war. This is your chance to maybe experience just what it was like at the time.

Flights will be from Popham EGHP (about 17 nm SW of Blackbushe). Exact price is currently still to be agreed, but we are hopeful we will be able to keep costs at a reasonable level. It is our intention to make a hoist available at a later point, but this may not be available from day one.

At this stage we would like to get an indication of likely demand, so if you are interested, please drop an email to Brian with a brief description of your impairment and stating whether or not you feel you would need the hoist to access the aircraft (happy to advise if you are not sure).

We will get back to you as soon as we have some definite dates.

Brian Catchpoole 
Aerobility Operations Manager
E-mail: Brian@Aerobility.com

April 08, 2016

Fundraising news - Andy Taylor in Maastrict Ironman!

Fundraising news - Andy Taylor in Maastrict Ironman!

As some of you may already know Andy Taylor, a volunteer flying instructor is raising money for Aerobility as he undertakes the massive Masstrict Ironman on 31st July - a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle and a 26.2 mile run!

In the lead up to this mammoth event, Aerobility will be following Andy's training progress, which has really picked up over the last few weeks and to quote Andy, "has turned into a bit of a part-time job!"

Triggered by completion of a half marathon at the end of last summer, Andy was diagnosed with Achilles Tendinitis - a series of tiny tears to the middle portion of the tendon, causing sharp pain when attempts are made to run. After religiously following the doctors guidance for recovery, Andy has only just started to reintegrate running into his training!  

Andy tells us, "Working as a pilot gives me a lot of time on standby so I try to make the most of it by jumping on my indoor bike trainer or going to the local pool for a swim. I get to go further a field on my days off and I can usually be found on the country lanes in North Warwickshire.  Part of my contract involves spending some time being on standby for the coastguard in Prestwick. This is a bit of a change to my routine as I do need to be airborne within 30 minutes if called, so I can't venture too away from the airport. To squeeze my training in I head to the local swimming pool informing the lifeguards that they may receive a call at any time which would mean fishing me out the pool!  I'm following a 36 week training program and currently 18 weeks in - at the moment I'm training about 12 hours a week and have started pushing my bike rides beyond 50 miles which has been a bit of a step up and is usually followed by an eating binge!  Over the next few months this will increase up to 19 hours a week and will include swims in my local lake when the weather gets warmer.
I'd like to thank everyone at Aerobility and those affiliated with the charity for their support it means a lot and will keep my going on those long training sessions!"

Andy has promised us some training selfies for the next update blog, so keep an eye out!

If you'd like to track Andy's progress via Strava, click here

April 07, 2016

Welcome Laura Miles! Joining the Aerobility family as Fundraising Officer.

Hello everyone, 

My name is Laura Miles and I'm proud to have recently joined Aerobility in the new role of Fundraising Officer. 

I have always been passionate about charity, undertaking a number of community fundraising activities both personally and in the workplace - everything from cake sales to walking marathon distances around London through the night. 

Before joining Aerobility, I worked with Zurich Municipal for 13 years in a variety of roles, serving both charity and public sector customers. This provided me with an insight into the challenges faced by charitable organisations and particularly the impact of austerity.

I have a deep admiration for this sector. Despite facing such adversity, charities maintain the drive and determination to enable them to continue providing countless services and support mechanisms to their communities and beyond. 

As soon as I began reading about the work Aerobility do, I was instantly inspired. Like many, I was blown away by the charity’s professional and glossy appearance and surprised to learn they are in fact, crucially low on funding.

Every pound really does count to ensure Aerobility can continue the amazing work they do. I am genuinely thrilled to be a part of helping to deliver a sustainable future for the charity and everyone involved, which begins with a focus on both Trust and Community Fundraising.

When I’m not fundraising, the places you can expect to find me are – enjoying family time with my hysterical three year old son, attending as many rock/metal gigs or festivals as I physically can, playing piano, sketching or relaxing with a spot of crochet in front of the TV.  I also recently discovered I can mow a great lawn!

Thank you for making me part of the Aerobility family - I can't wait to meet you all along the way!

Tel: 0303 303 1230

Ready to book! The glorious Yak is available to fly.

Aerobility are thrilled to announce our glorious Yak has completed its winter maintenance programme and is available to book by disabled flyers for introductory flights. 

During the winter the aircraft has also been fitted with a disability hand control. Note that due to operational limitations the hand control will not ordinarily be fitted, and will only be in place for those undertaking conversion training on type.

The cover first came off last week when Jon Windover and Sam Watmough ventured out to undertake a complete hand-control inspection and pre-flight checks. The team hoped a test flight would be possible the same day, but with darkness fast approaching, the decision was taken to postpone.  It was great to have the support and knowledge from John Askew who originally developed the Yak hand control and kindly made it available to Aerobility. Great thanks also to Laurie Gregoire who led the engineering side of the project and liaised with the CAA.

Just two days later, test pilots Andy Durston and Jon Gowdy were determined to ensure the Yak became airborne. Admittedly, the sky wasn't quite so blue, but this didn't detract from the incredible experience the Yak provides. We are pleased to report, a successful and smooth landing by Andy using the hand rudder alone. 
Introductory flights in the Aerobility Yak are available for £100. Please contact us on the usual number to book your flight - 0303 303 1230.

April 06, 2016

Fulfilling a dream - Intensive Pilot Training for Flyer Christian Saleta

Christian Saleta has cerebral palsy but this has not stopped him from undertaking an intensive course to complete his pilot training. 

Gaining his Class 2 Medical after a very tough set of tests, Christian set about fulfilling his dreams of becoming a pilot and headed to England from his home in Germany. 
After arriving at Aerobility on 23rd March 2016, Christian has already logged over 6 hours flying time as well as many hours in the classroom.  His passion for flying shines through in his determination.  He says himself that flying makes him feel equal.  It puts him on the same level as everyone else, if not better than many.
Christian has ambitions to become a member of a flying club one day and be totally in charge of his own aircraft. He would like to fly an aircraft all across Europe without a single limitation.
We wish Christian every success in his flight training and are proud to support him throughout his training and beyond.

Follow Aerobility on Facebook and Twitter for blog update alerts on Christian’s progress.

April 05, 2016

Thank you Fred!

It was an absolute pleasure for me to present a signed Paralympic Opening Ceremony Flypast print to Mr Fred Arnold as a thank you for his recent incredible support of Aerobility through the donation of his aeroplane.  Fred began his flying career in 1943 when he became a Lancaster tail gunner and has been flying regularly since, only stopping recently in his 91st year.  Fred has flown his TB20 as far as the Norwegian North Cape and Turkey with his family.

Every now and again it is a privilege to meet very special people.

Thank you from all of us at Aerobility.

Mike Miller-Smith
Aerobility Chief Executive

April 04, 2016

£580 raised for Aerobility - thank you to Audrey and everyone who sponsored!

Huge congratulations goes to Audrey Catchpoole, who successfully achieved her personal goal of completing the Reading Half Marathon in under three hours - two hours 58 minutes to be precise! 
Approaching the finish line with a smile and wave, looking strong with the under three hour target within reach
Thank you once again to everyone who kindly sponsored Audrey's challenge and of course to Audrey for supporting Aerobility as she undertook and accomplished this great achievement. 

Congratulations from everyone at Aerobility!