Guest blogger Andy Perkins, who is a great friend of Aerobility as well as being a British Airways pilot and Air League trustee reports:
"Recently we flew what we think was the first takeoff, circuit and landing in a fully functioning Airbus A320 simulator for someone in their own wheelchair! As many of you know you know, Mike Miller-Smith is the CEO of disabled flying charity Aerobility. Mike has Muscular Dystrophy. Before his disease, he was working towards his ambition of becoming a commercial airline pilot. Although Mike spends all his time going out of his way to assist others with disabilities, we felt it was time to assist him in realising one of his dreams.
Therefore with the help of British Airways – Al Bridger, Andy Clubb and James Glover’s Simulator Engineering team, we managed to get Mike into the Airbus simulator replacing the first officer seat with his wheelchair. This got Mike to within 2 inches of the controls! To start with Mike was over the moon to be that close, and happy to watch. However, we weren’t happy with that at all! So with the assistance of the fantastic engineering team at BA as well as a 1980’s British Airways coat hanger and 3 tie wraps (Yes you are reading this correctly!) Mike managed to take off, conduct a circuit and then landed unaided. Most importantly, a very happy and extremely well flown circuit was safely made by Mike.
An amazing evening and great achievement for all involved. A proud evening to be associated with such great advocates of British Airways and again showed me what fantastic people we have within the company, not to mention fulfilling a dream come true and what must be a world first – flying an airliner from the wheelchair."