March 31, 2014

Aerobility Touring Group - Duxford Trip Report

The first Aerobility Touring Group trip was a great success, as Aerobility instructor Stuart tells us:

On Saturday, 15th March, 9 nine intrepid flyers from the UK’s best known disability flying charity, Aerobility, came together to start the 2014 summer season touring group with style. The mission? – fly 2 aircraft from Blackbushe to Duxford and back, in a day, round some of the most demanding airspace in Europe.

The preparation had begun in the weeks before with phone calls back and forward to Duxford Air Traffic to negotiate a special permission to land our pioneering party whilst the airfield underwent some improvements to its control tower. Builders came and went and permission was slow to come but when it did come - the flying challenge began.

Chatter, coffee and excitement at the great weather fuelled the flight planning from 8 until 9.30 am. 2 aircraft were needed to get the nine of us there, 6 people up in G-CHFK – the Cherokee Six in splendid Aerobility Livery and 3 up in the new, leased PA28, G-HARN, only on its second day with the charity.

Both aircraft departed at 10am for the hour long flight to Duxford. Our route took us due north past White Waltham and Heathrow at our bumpy cruise altitude of 2,200ft, on to our first turning point of Marlow to past between Booker airfield and the Heathrow zone. On we went past Chesham to the left as London appeared to the right out of the lifting morning mist.

In the PA28, long-time Aerobility flyer Brian Jupp hand flew the leg with instructor Stuart Redman Lusher taking the radio and Stewart Clarke map reading in the rear seat.  Suddenly, crackling across the radio came Aerobility instructor, Nick Glover who was Pilot in Command in the Cherokee ‘Farnborough North, GCHFK, changing to Duxford 122.075’. It was good to hear the company traffic on the radio and nearly at Duxford because that meant they had safely navigated the narrow corridor between Panshanger and Stanstead, an aviation equivalent of the ancient pass at Thermopylae!

Back in the PA28, the same routing took us on through the gap 10 minutes after the Cherokee and we soon found ourselves looking for our entry point to the Duxford Circuit, the town of Royston. Stuart raised Duxford on the radio and we were given our airfield information and were soon on the runway and told to park on the apron where a pre-arranged bus was ready to take to our first objective – the cafe and secondly onto hangar 1 for our guided tour.

Suitably refreshed with tea, coffee and sausage rolls for some, new Aerobility flyer Richard Edwards offered to pay the landing fees and we all set off as a ‘Magnificent 10’ around hangar 1 with our tour guide. The story of early flight is housed here and we all saw an original canvas from of the Wright flyer and for the next 45 minutes we saw one of the best displays available in any UK aviation museum. Concorde was parked next to the Vulcan and a Comet 4 on BOAC colours. Overhead hung a wood framed, Merlin powered de Havilland Mosquito along with a late model RAF harrier and a Canberra, Nestled amongst the undercarriages of the bigger Lancaster and Shorts Sunderland we saw lesser known airplanes like the Airspeed Oxford and the similar looking Avro Anson.

The group of nine then dispersed for the remaining 2 hours of our visit across the other hangars with favourites amongst the group being the American air museum and Hangar 2 which housed the older aircraft still fit to fly. We reconvened at 3.30pm to brief and fly the return leg to Blackbushe.

The weather had settled when both the aircraft got airborne from the south westerly runway 24 at Duxford and a smooth, slightly shorter journey awaited us as we returned back to Blackbushe. Again the Cherokee 6 was first airborne piloted by Trish ‘the Dish’ Amess in her first flight in many months and first ever in the PA32. London was far more visible this time to the left of us and crew and passengers of both aircraft were able to pick out Wembley, The Shard and the Canary Wharf as we passed north of Watford and south of the Chess valley that seems to swallow Chesham when you look at it from the air. Turning south it was soon time to talk to Blackbushe and new pilot Richard performed some impressive straight and level flying in the PA28 for someone with 2 hours total time!

With both aircraft back at Blackbushe and the sun setting our band of flyers took care of the bill with the ever efficient/gorgeous Sue Dodds and enjoyed the 5th cup of tea of the day before we went our separate ways. Everyone left thinking of the next trip – and overnight to the Scilly Isles on Friday 16th May, just 7 weeks away!

My thanks go to Nick Glover for his expertise on the day, the amazing staff at Duxford for whom nothing was too much trouble, particularly the airfield manager Tom Turner for allowing the fly-in and finally all the Aerobility flying members for really making the day.

If you wish to be included in the Aerobility Touring Group for this summer please email to add yourself to the flight you wish to be part of. Everyone is welcome, from non-flyers to highly experienced. 

The flights are :-

Scilly Isles –         16&17th May 2014
Oban –                 13-16th June 2014

Le Touquet -       19th July 2014

ACL: Volunteering Day

On the Friday 7th March a very enthusiastic ACL team came to Aerobility for a volunteers day. 

They didn't stop until all the aircraft and Aerobility windows were polished until they sparkled, they gave the Aerobility garden a face lift digging over flower beds, planting lavender and painting the garden bollards with Aerobility logo. They even found the time to paint the Aerobility Simulator screen.

What a lovely team they were, all jobs were completed with huge effort, enthusiasm and oodles of  fun. It was a real pleasure to meet and work with them. Huge thanks to you all!

And as if that wasn't enough... The team also funded two brand new accessible picnic tables for us, which haven't arrived yet but will look something like the picture below (with two wheelchair spaces per bench, rather than one..). So come down and picnic with us this summer! Thank you ACL!

March 27, 2014

Meteorology for Aviators: Special Rate for Aerobility!

Aerobility are very happy to announce that they have secured a special rate for the popular Meteorology for Aviators courses held at the Met Office in Exeter. For further information see the Met Office web site

They are offering our flyers the opportunity to attend these standard scheduled courses in Exeter. They will offer places at £298 (normal price £329) for the 2 day Meteorology for Aviators course and £128 (normal price £145) for the 1 day Weather Decision Making course. Met Office training is VAT exempt.

If you would like to book a place, please contact Brian, Operations Manager, at Blackbushe.

March 14, 2014

Aerobility Aurora – what a night!

We feel very privileged to have been treated to such a fantastic Aurora display and have had some lovely comments and were delighted that everything went so well, especially considering this was the first time Aerobility and British Airways have joined forces for such a special charter flight. We are also indebted to our fantastic technical host Pete Lawrence and MC Jon Culshaw who enriched the evening so wonderfully.

Trip Report
Brian Whittaker has created this informative and enjoyable photo report of the Aerobility Aurora flight.
Click Here

Passenger Feedback
“Dave and I would like to thank you and your team for arranging such an amazing experience.  You had thought of everything to make it a special occasion for all those taking part and even managed to produce an aurora display as well!
Please pass on our thanks to all your team.”

“It was a great night which I won't forget, and it was good to catch up a few people I'd not seen for a while.”

“She truly truly had the most amazing, emotional experience which will stay with her forever.  She has nothing but high praise for everyone that was involved in making it a really relaxing, enjoyable and magical day!” 

“It was a great night which I won't forget for a long while.”

Aerobility Ballooning 2014

As you will no doubt all know, Aerobility have been increasing the availability of Ballooning for its members over the last few years with a number of exploratory events, using the Breitling Academy Balloon and others kindly loaned for the events. We are now pleased to announce that Aerobility’s own Balloon is nearing the end of a modification program and should shortly be inspected and approved ready for flight.

Balloon Pilot Training

For those who wish to learn to fly Balloons, we aim to offer Pilot training to PPL(B) utilising what is known as a Duo Chariot. The Chariot is a two person gondolier suspended beneath the Balloon envelope. This has a number of advantages for aspiring pilots compared to the traditional basket including: access from the front is at the same level as many wheelchairs thus facilitating easier transfer and, all controls can be accessed from a sitting position. Add to this the amazing view that flying this combination affords, and you will appreciate this is a truly amazing experience.

To get a better idea of what is on offer take a look at this footage of Aerobility member Tim Ellison who recently became Europe’s first disabled balloon pilot. The chair Tim uses in the clip is very similar to the Aerobility Duo Chariot:

If you would like to learn to fly a balloon, now is the time to let us know. We are offering training to any disabled person who can safely access the Chariot. The exact format and location of lessons has yet to be decided, but first of all we need to assess demand. So to be part of this exciting development, please email

Wheelchair Accessible Flights

Of course it may be that although you may want to fly a balloon, the idea of the Duo Chariot does not appeal and maybe you don’t wish to obtain a licence. For those of you perhaps looking for this slightly more passive experience, we do hope to obtain the use of a traditional wheelchair accessible basket later on in the year. We can’t promise or commit to a specific date at the moment, but again, register your interest and if and when this becomes available, we will be in touch.

Ground Crew

Finally a message to our able bodied friends; would you consider volunteering as ground crew? This crucial work is not only great fun, but also an essential ingredient to enable our disabled members to participate and we will be offering training for those of you happy to volunteer your time and energy.

March 04, 2014

Aerobility Tecnam undergoing rigourous spin recovery testing – Entire flight completed using disability hand controls

This fascinating (and reassuring!) video features the Aerobility Tecnam undergoing its recent spin testing with  the factory test pilot.  Whilst it is great to see that all spin modes and subsequent recoveries were predictable, you will also notice that the flight was entirely completed using the disability hand controls. You will see the right hand operating the rudder (in and out) and the throttle (rotation).

March 03, 2014

The Reading Half Marathon : Well Done Team Aerobility!!

Yesterday, a team of Aerobility Runners made it around the 13.1 miles of the Reading Half Marathon after many weeks of training in the wind and the rain! It was a great effort from all involved, with everyone overcoming their own personal challenges and reaching their own personal goals (including a first place in the V55 Men's Category for Russell!)

Team Aerobility - Take 1

Team Aerobility - Take 2

It is safe to say that one motivation for making it round was the fantastic support and sponsorship we received - so a big, big thank you to everyone who donated to the Aerobility Runners!

Aerobility student, Karl, sprinting to the finish line - this is just training for his full marathon next week!

Also, a huge thank you to all of the runners for giving up their time - not just yesterday but all of those early mornings and late nights spent building up the miles in training! Which race do you want to do next?!

The fantastic Audrey who battled through months of training to complete the race - we are all very proud although perhaps no one quite as proud as our very own Brian!

Michael had a great run despite a knee injury and was seen sprinting off into the distance towards the finish line!

A personal best for our very lovely Chair of Trustees, Shona, who had only had 2 hours sleep after flying the Aerobility Aurora flight the night before!

You can still sponsor us by visiting our fundraising page - we really appreciate all support!

Winter Aviation Evening - Wednesday 12th March

The next Winter Aviation Evening at Blackbushe will be held on Wednesday 12th March at 7pm. See below for more details!